Spider Veins Overview
What Are Spider Veins?
Spider veins typically appear in a spider web-like pattern on the lower limbs. These red, blue, or purple clusters are often caused by a backup of blood in capillaries or supporting veins, a problem called venous insufficiency. Known medically as telangiectasias, spider veins are essentially broken superficial blood vessels, which is why you can see them at the surface of your skin.
What Causes Spider Veins?
Poor circulation in deeper leg veins is typically to blame for spider veins. Saphenous (surface) veins are connected by perforating veins to deep veins in the leg. Leg veins serve the purpose of returning blood to the lungs to reload with oxygen. That’s achieved by sending blood to the heart, which pumps it to the lungs. The deep veins do most of the work, assisted by leg muscles, but the surface veins help as well. One-way valves in the veins make sure everything moves in the right direction, namely upward. If these valves break, blood stalls in place or leaks backward, a malfunction known as venous reflux.
Beneath the broken valve, the vein begins to swell with pressure, forcing the formation of new vein threads called spider veins. Spider veins are incredibly common, occurring in roughly half of adults in America. Women are slightly more prone to telangiectasias, in part because hormones and pregnancy play a role. Some patients aren’t really bothered by spider veins, while others have significant symptoms of swelling, pain, restlessness, fatigue, cramping, or heaviness in their legs. Symptoms are often worse in those who don’t get enough exercise or who sit or stand for most of the day.
Who Is At Risk For Spider Veins?
Anyone can develop spider veins since there are multiple causes, including injury, pregnancy, hormone shifts, weight gain, medication (like birth control), and lengthy periods of sitting or standing at school or work. In addition, facial spider veins can develop from sun damage. But the number one predictor is heredity, since 70% of spider veins occur in people whose relatives also have them. In fact, patients whose parents both had spider veins have a 90% chance of acquiring them. Since high estrogen and pregnancy elevate the risk, women develop spider veins more often than men. The prevalence increases as we age, since veins can lose their elasticity over time.
What Causes Spider Veins?
Venous insufficiency involves faulty valves that cause venous reflux (pooling or backward blood flow), which is the main cause of spider veins. Accumulating blood creates pressure within veins, which causes them to twist and branch out in the wrong direction. These branches are the spider veins you see beneath the skin.
What Are the Symptoms of Spider Veins?
Many patients have no symptoms with spider veins and are mostly bothered by how they look. This is especially true of patients whose spider veins aren’t caused by vein disease. However, those whose telangiectasias stem from venous insufficiency might contend with legs that ache, burn, itch, sting, throb, cramp, tingle, swell, or feel heavy or restless. When venous insufficiency is chronic and severe, some people also develop ulcerations, rashes, and darkening of the skin.
How Do Doctors Treat Spider Veins?
You don’t have to treat spider veins if they’re asymptomatic. However, many patients simply want these veins they jokingly refer to as “road maps” removed for cosmetic reasons. And if you have symptoms, it’s essential to visit our NYC vein treatment center. Spider veins stemming from vein disease should be treated for both your safety and your comfort. Our Manhattan vein experts use quick and gentle solutions like sclerotherapy for spider veins.
What Is the Best Treatment for Spider Veins?
Treatment for spider veins is highly effective and proven safe, providing you choose the right vein doctor in New York. A qualified vein specialist will perform a complete analysis of both your symptoms and your venous anatomy. Learning what’s causing your spider veins is key in preventing a recurrence, particularly if venous insufficiency is involved.
Our NY vein doctors perform this procedure on-site without general anesthesia or downtime. Highly successful and reliable, this is a top choice for eliminating spider veins. Doctors inject an irritant into the defective vein which prompts its collapse and closure.
Employing therapeutic heat, this minimally invasive treatment targets both the visibility and insufficiency of unhealthy veins. The process is similar to laser ablation but uses thermal rather than laser energy to get the job done. Our patients at New York Vein Center like that it’s more comfortable and leaves fewer bruises than laser therapy.
Endovenous laser treatment now supersedes vein surgery for many patients, with its higher safety profile and procedural ease. Patients forego anesthesia, hospital stays, and recovery time with our outpatient laser treatments.
This technique uses lasers primarily to destroy surface veins, rather than deep veins, since it doesn’t treat venous insufficiency. It’s best for tiny thread veins as either an alternate or supplement to sclerotherapy. Our NYC vein experts don’t recommend laser treatment for those with broken, inflamed, or highly sensitive skin.
Patients love knowing they can improve spider vein symptoms like swelling and discomfort at home. One of the best ways is to practice consistent exercise, since leg muscles help our leg veins do their job. Activity causes calf muscles to tighten and release, propelling blood through the veins and up to the heart. In addition, try propping your legs above your heart while sleeping or sitting for long periods of time, to assist blood’s movement against gravity. While exercise won’t make spider veins visibly vanish, it will make them feel better and reduce the likelihood of developing more.
Have our New York City vein doctors fit you for support stockings if you’re experiencing swelling, discomfort, or discoloration. When properly sized, they apply the appropriate amount of compression to release the pressure building inside of veins and push blood in the right direction. They won’t make current spider veins disappear, but they’ll help with the irritating symptoms.