What Causes Spider Veins?

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spidder veins If you start seeing scattered branching red and blue vessels popping up on your thighs and lower legs, you simply may be getting spider veins, or spider telangiesctasias.


Both spider veins and varicose veins can occur for many reasons. Heredity is a primary factor and if women in your family have varicose or spider veins, you may be susceptible to developing them as well. Other factors include pregnancy, aging, and a lifestyle that promotes either standing or sitting for long periods of time.

The good news is that there are things you can do to reduce your chances of getting spider veins.

  • Be active. If you have a job that requires you to be on your feet all the time, like being a nurse, hair stylist, teacher or sales person, then wear supportive hosiery.  Believe it or not, walking is a great way to combat the tendency for spider veins. Walking, versus standing all day, improves your blood circulation. Studies have shown people who consistently walk (not run or jog) and are active can actually “grow” vascular paths to bypass any clot or damaged vein due to a trauma or plaque build up.  
  • Lose weight and eat healthy. Studies have shown that obesity and high cholesterol can be a factor in the development and spread of spider veins.
  • Watch out for hormones. Women, more than men, get these ugly spider or varicose outbreaks. This is due to sudden hormonal changes in estrogen levels, such as menopause or pregnancy. A recent study from the University of Nebraska College of Medicine showed that birth control pills and hormonal therapies may increase your risk of getting spider veins.


How Do You Treat Spider Veins?

spider veins varicose veinsThere no magical over the counter methods to remove unsightly spider veins. The two mainstream ways to remove spider veins: sclerotherapy and laser treatments. Sclerotherapy is the gold standard cosmetic procedure to remove spider veins. A sclerosing agent is injected into the veins that causes them to collapse and seal off. For painful, swollen varicose veins, more invasive procedures such as endovenous laser therapy (EVLT) or venous stripping my be performed by a vascular surgeon.  Laser treatments are an option for spider veins, but don’t tend to work as predictably as sclerotherapy.

The sclerotherapy procedure involves very little risk and the residual discomfort is mild.  You should stay off your feet as much as possible for a a day or two if the treatments are performed on your legs.  Do not cross you legs when you sit, or tuck one under the other. Do not exercise for about 24 hours. There may be a bit of reddened area around the injection site, but this is to be expected. In a few days it will fade. If the spider veins are persistent, it can take up to three treatments to diminish them, so do not get discouraged.

Some people experience hyperpigmentation at the treatment sites. This can last several months before it fades. On rare occasions, it never goes away. Your skin care professional can advise you to the risks and benefits of sclerotherapy for spider veins.

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