Spider veins are small, visible veins (usually capillaries, the smallest type of veins) found on the legs and sometimes on the face. They get their name because they appear in clusters and look like a delicate spider web.
Unlike varicose veins, their larger cousins, spider veins don’t affect the texture of your skin. However, they affect your appearance, producing red, purple, or blue discolorations that vary in size.
Spider veins generally aren’t a medical issue, but they can be uncomfortable, sometimes causing aching or burning sensations. While you can leave them alone with no harm done, you may feel self-conscious about the way you look and want to have them removed.
At Comprehensive Vascular Care, with locations in Novi and Southfield, Michigan, our team of board-certified vascular, vein, and wound care specialists understands how uncomfortable spider veins can make you feel, which is why we offer in-office treatment to get rid of these discolored markings. Here’s what you should know about the condition and its treatment.
Common causes of spider veins
Medically known as telangiectasia, spider veins are thin and usually small, though the weblike patterns can sometimes grow quite large.
To understand why spider veins form, you need to know a little something about the way veins work. Arteries carry oxygenated blood away from the heart and to the body’s tissues, while veins shuttle deoxygenated blood from the tissues to the heart. That means the blood has to fight against the downward pull of gravity.
To compensate for the pull, veins contain one-way valves that ensure blood can flow in only one direction; they snap shut once the blood passes through. If the vein walls weaken, the valves can become damaged, and the blood can flow backward and pool, increasing the pressure inside the vein. This is known as chronic venous insufficiency (CVI).
As the blood pools, the veins become engorged, and since spider veins lie close to the skin’s surface, they can easily be seen through it.
Vein and valve damage can occur for a number of reasons. They’re a common result of aging, extended periods of sitting or standing (which puts more pressure on the lower veins), and lack of exercise. They’re also common in pregnant women because of the added weight.
Spider veins on the face often result from tiny blood vessels bursting, which may be caused by increased pressure or damage from the sun’s UV rays.
Should I worry about my spider veins?
As we’ve mentioned, spider veins usually aren’t a serious medical issue, so there’s no reason to panic over them. Occasionally, they can cause itchiness, cramping, or the feeling of “heavy” legs, similar to the symptoms of varicose veins. But unlike varicose veins, they aren’t associated with deep vein thrombosis (DVT), where a clot forms in a deep vein; if the clot breaks free, it can travel to the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism, a life-threatening condition. Since spider veins lie close to the skin’s surface, they’re really more of a cosmetic issue. But if their appearance bothers you, and you want them removed, we can do that.
Spider vein treatment
At Comprehensive Vascular Care, we use the gold standard treatment for spider veins: sclerotherapy. Sclerotherapy involves injecting a solution, usually saline, directly into your spider veins. It irritates the vein lining, causing it to collapse and the blood within it to clot. The vein eventually shrivels away, with the blood flow rerouted to healthier veins. The entire procedure takes about 30 minutes, after which you can resume your normal routine.
Depending on the size of your spider veins and the number that require treatment, you may need two to three sessions to eliminate them completely. Your doctor will probably recommend that you wear compression stockings for a couple of weeks to prevent clotting, and you’ll see the veins fade and finally disappear in 3-6 weeks.
If you’re bothered by the look of spider veins on your legs or face, we can help you get rid of them. Give Comprehensive Vascular Care a call at either of our locations to schedule a consultation, or book online today.