What Are Spider Veins?

Spider veins are small, twisted blood vessels that are visible through the skin.  They may be red, purple, or blue and most often appear on the legs or face. They take their name from their striking spider web pattern.


Spider Vein Characteristics

•  Smaller and less severe than varicose veins

•  Do not generally lead to serious health problems

•  Risk factors include sun exposure, hormonal changes, and standing for long periods of time

•  Often treated with sclerotherapy and radio frequency

•  Most people experience success with these methods

Where Are Spider Veins Located?

The force of gravity, the pressure of body weight, and the task of carrying blood from the bottom of the body up to the heart make legs the primary location for spider veins. This pressure can be stronger than the veins' one-way valves. Therefore, spider veins are most common in the thighs, ankles, and feet.


Who Gets Spider Veins?

Risk factors for spider veins include:

•  Increasing age

•  Having family members with vein problems or being born with weak vein valves

•  Hormonal changes which occur during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. Taking birth control pills and other medicines containing estrogen and progesterone also increases the risk of varicose or spider veins.

•  Pregnancy. During pregnancy, there is a huge increase in the amount of blood in the body, which can cause veins to enlarge. The expanding uterus also puts pressure on the veins. Spider veins usually improve within three months after delivery. A growing number of abnormal veins usually appear with each additional pregnancy.

•  Occupations that require prolonged standing.

•  Obesity, leg injury and other things that weaken vein valves.

•  Sun exposure, which can cause spider veins on the cheeks or nose of a fair-skinned person.


Symptoms and Prognosis

Spider veins are usually unsightly and in the great majority of people, they are asymptomatic and not harmful. However, their appearance can cause emotional distress and reduce self-confidence. Therefore, the primary reason for spider vein treatment is cosmetic concern.

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