Spider veins are small blood vessels that have become dilated and congested with blood and appear on the surface of the skin.
They are most commonly found on the legs but can appear elsewhere on the body, including but not limited to the face, chest, and back. These dilated blood vessels can be flat or slightly raised and look like a spider web or a tree with branches. They can also appear as thin, threadlike lines or clusters that are pink, red, blue, or purple in color. Spider veins are generally thought of as a cosmetic problem but they can sometimes cause leg pain, heaviness, burning or stinging. Varicose veins differ from spider veins in that they are larger, swollen blood vessels that protrude and bulge above the skin’s surface and they have valves inside the vessel that leak or no longer close properly to prevent the back-flow of blood. Varicose veins may have more serious implications.
The exact cause of spider veins is still unclear but several factors can influence the onset. Such factors include: family history, hormonal changes, such as puberty and pregnancy, leg injury, prolonged standing, and being overweight. Birth control pills, or hormone replacement therapy also may trigger them. Spider veins arise more often in women because the female hormones are involved in their growth. Spider veins on the nose or cheeks may be triggered by excessive sun exposure. Sun protections is important to limit the number of spider veins on the face.
Spider veins can be left alone if they are not causing any problems. Many find the problem unsightly and seek treatment for cosmetic reasons. The majority of spider veins that are treated will disappear or become much smaller.The most widely accepted treatment for spider veins on the legs is sclerotherapy. This service is provided at Georgia Dermatology Partners. Sclerotherapy is a process by which a small needle is introduced into the vein and a substance, known as a sclerosant, is injected into a vein or vein network. A sclerosant is a solution that is designed to greatly reduce or eliminate the vein from sight. A single session may address several veins. However, treatment may require multiple sessions based on the amount, complexity, and subjectivity of each individual. This process is effective and safe with minimal side effects. Laser treatments, including intense pulsed light (IPL) and high-intensity lasers, may be used to close small blood vessels and work especially well on facial veins.
Let us know if you would like a consult to have any questions or concerns addressed related to spider veins.
BY: Gail Wenner, RN