Should I Be Concerned About Spider Veins?
For many, spider veins are an unsightly, cosmetic nuisance found on the surface of the legs and face.
At times, however, spider veins may be the first indicator of developing or underlying vein disease.
What Are Spider Veins?
Spider veins are tiny, thread-like blood vessels that are just beneath the surface of the skin.
Most spider veins appear on the legs and ankles, but can also appear on the face.
These veins are often reddish-blue and may appear in a web-like pattern.
What Are The Symptoms of Spider Veins?
Many people do not experience any symptoms associated with spider veins, outside of finding them to be an unsightly cosmetic concern.
Other people, however, may experience several symptoms related to spider veins that may be the signs of underlying vein disease:
- Pain and aching
- Burning and itching
- Heaviness and fatigue in the legs
Should you be experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is essential that you contact a doctor for a medical evaluation and to rule out any underlying health concerns.
What Causes Spider Veins?
Spider veins may be caused by unhealthy valves inside the “feeder” veins, also known as reticular veins. From the feeder veins, the blood flows backward and pools in tiny, spider veins just under the surface of the skin.
What Are Reticular Veins?
Reticular veins are also known as “feeder” veins and supply spider veins with blood. While spider veins are tiny, small, and superficial veins, reticular veins are more significant, bluish-green veins.
Spider veins will continue to occur if the reticular veins are left untreated.
Am I At Risk for Developing Spider Veins?
Spider veins are prevalent, and many of us will eventually develop them. Typically, spider veins are genetic. If you have a family history of spider veins or vein disease, you may be at risk for developing the same conditions.
Also, pregnancy or jobs that require standing for long periods increase the chances of developing spider veins.
When Spider Veins Might Be A Sign Of Something More Significant
For some, spider veins may be the early warning sign or precursor to an underlying health condition or vein disease, such as Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI).
CVI occurs when valves in the veins are damaged or weakened, allowing a backflow of blood that pools in veins of the legs and feet. CVI is a chronic and progressive condition that may worsen without appropriate medical treatment and lifestyle changes.
Spider Vein Treatments
There are several safe and effective treatments available for spider veins. Read below for the most common procedures:
Sclerotherapy is a procedure where a solution (sclerosant) or foam is injected directly into the damaged vein. Once injected, the vein walls will scar and collapse, redirecting blood flow to nearby, healthy veins. The diseased vein is reabsorbed by surrounding tissue, and the spider vein will fade over time.
For the most effective results, more than one treatment is typical.
During laser therapy, intense bursts of light are sent directly inside the vein. These high energy bursts cause the vein to collapse and disappear slowly.
Laser therapy does not require incisions or needles and is often useful for small spider veins.
Endovenous Laser Therapy (EVLT)
For spider veins and smaller varicose veins, EVLT is an effective and safe option.
EVLT utilizes a small laser fiber that is inserted directly into the site of a diseased vein.
Once positioned, the laser fiber delivers a high amount of heat. This thermal energy weakens the collagen in the vein wall, causing the vein to collapse and seal shut.
Typically, it will take a few months, or up to a year, for the vein to disappear entirely.
Should I Contact My Doctor?
For most individuals, spider veins are merely a cosmetic nuisance. Should you find that you are unhappy with the appearance, there are safe and effective treatments available.
If you are experiencing any symptoms or discomfort associated with the spider veins, then it is advised to speak with a medical practitioner. A simple vein evaluation can help you determine if chronic venous insufficiency is the cause.
Several symptoms would signal a time to contact your doctor, such as:
- Aching or tenderness
- Redness or itching
- Swelling in the feet, ankles or legs
- A feeling of heaviness or fatigue in the legs