Spider veins are a common condition that affect many adults, which are especially common in women. The pain management doctors at the Novus Spine & Pain Center vein clinic treat patients with spider veins to help prevent serious health conditions from developing, such as varicose veins. Plus, the treatment helps improve the visual appearance of the skin.
Spider veins are smaller than varicose veins, which are large, raised, and swollen blood vessels that twist and turn. Both spider veins and varicose veins are visible through the skin. They can lead to more serious health conditions such as skin ulcers, phlebitis, and blood clots.
What Are Spider Veins?
Spider veins, a mild type of varicose veins, are the result of the dilation (enlargement) of a group of small blood vessels that are visible through the surface of the skin.
Most often, spider veins appear on the legs and face, just under the skin, but they can appear anywhere on the body. Spider veins often look like a red, blue, or purple sunburst (much like a “spider’s web”). Spider veins and varicose veins are sometimes located together. Although they usually pose no health hazard, spider veins may produce a dull aching in the legs after prolonged standing. Also, they can be an indication of more severe venous disease.
Spider veins are quite common in people over the age of 50. An estimated 25 percent of adults in the U.S. have some form of a varicose vein condition, including spider veins. The incidence of venous disease increases in older women, with slightly more women having spider veins than men.
Although spider veins’ exact cause is unknown, heredity, pregnancy, trauma, aging, sun damage, and hormonal influences are believed to be contributing factors.
Causes of Spider Veins
Spider veins are the result of blood vessel structural abnormalities. Veins that carry blood back to the heart from other parts of the body utilize a series of one-way valves to avoid blood from flowing backward. For a variety of reasons, these valves can become defective.
When the valves do not work properly, blood backs up in the veins, causing an increase in pressure. The pressure results in the weakening of the blood vessel wall, and the vein enlarges (dilates).
Several factors can predispose a person to develop spider veins. Some of these factors are:
A history of blood clots.
An increase in abdominal pressure from weight gain, a tumor, constipation, and tight or restrictive external garments (like a girdle).
Exposure to the sun and ultraviolet rays (especially in light-skinned people).
Hormonal influences during pregnancy, puberty, and menopause.
Postmenopausal hormonal replacement.
Occupations that require standing (such as nurses, teachers, and factory workers).
Previous vein surgery.
Trauma or injury to the skin.
Symptoms of Spider Veins
Spider veins often have no symptoms other than an undesirable appearance. However, spider veins can sometimes trigger swelling, throbbing, and restless legs. They can become painful and result in skin discoloration, skin ulcers (open sore), or blood clots. The symptoms often worsen after prolonged sitting or standing.
The most obvious sign of spider veins is their web-like appearance on the skin, which can be red, blue, or purple. Other symptoms include:
A general uncomfortable feeling in the legs.
Cramping or aching.
Itching around the veins.
Treatment of Spider Veins
Spider veins are generally not a serious health issue, and most people do not require treatment if there are no symptoms. However, many patients seek treatment for cosmetic reasons. Aside from professional treatment, there is no proven over-the-counter way to reduce the appearance of spider veins.
Some home treatments can help alleviate some of the symptoms of spider veins. Conservative measures can help prevent potential complications. Conservative, non-medical treatments for spider veins include:
Compression stockings. Properly fitted, elastic support stockings can help the veins direct blood back toward the heart. Also, the added pressure often helps relieve discomfort.
Keep active. Activities such as walking, cycling, and swimming help maintain proper blood circulation and can reduce pressure and blood pooling in the legs.
Avoid sitting or standing for long periods. Remaining in one position for an extended time can place pressure on leg veins. Flexing calf muscles frequently and changing position every 30 minutes can help increase blood flow when seated for an extended time.
Avoid overly restrictive clothing. Constricting clothing around the waist, legs, and groin area can restrict circulation and lead to spider veins as well as varicose veins.
Maintain a healthy weight. Reducing body weight helps relieve excess pressure on the legs that causes veins to surface.
When home treatments fail to yield satisfactory results, more specialized medical procedures may be available. These medical procedures, depending on the location and size of the spider veins, include:
Sclerotherapy. An outpatient procedure in which the veins are injected with a solution that closes them, causing the blood to reroute through healthier veins.
Laser Therapy. The use of a focused beam of light to heat and thereby damage affected blood vessels, which then eventually fade. Sometimes this treatment is used as a complement to sclerotherapy.
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) therapy. A high-powered, computer-controlled intense pulse of light that destroys spider veins, which are then reabsorbed into the body.
When performed at a vein clinic, these spider veins treatments are safe and effective.
Preventing Spider Veins
Although not always entirely preventable, there are steps you can take to reduce the chances of developing spider veins and varicose veins. Things you can do:
Maintain a healthy weight.
Avoid prolonged sitting or standing.
Avoid crossing legs while seated.
Elevate legs when resting.
Avoid wearing tight-fitting clothing around the waist, groin, and legs.
Novus Spine & Pain Center
Dr. Torres established Novus Spine & Pain Center in Lakeland, Florida, with the goal of providing the highest quality pain management care to every patient. Whether pain is the result of an injury or from another condition, Dr. Torres offers many different treatment options.
Novus Spine & Pain Center utilizes a comprehensive approach and cutting-edge therapies to restore normal function and allow patients to regain an active lifestyle while minimizing the need for opiates. As our patient, you are our top priority. Our goal is to help you achieve the best possible quality of life.
Our Mission Statement:To provide the best quality of life to people suffering from pain by providing state of the art treatments, knowledge and skill, compassion, and respect for all.