Tips for Treating Spider Veins

Spider veins refer to those red, purple or blue lines that can be seen through the skin. These are actually dilated blood vessels that are turned or twisted. Some appear as short fine lines, others in clusters, and others in the spider web shape.

Posted on | Susan Evans, MD | Comments ()

Spider veins refer to those red, purple or blue lines that can be seen through the skin. These are actually dilated blood vessels that are turned or twisted. Some appear as short fine lines, others in clusters, and others in the spider web shape.


When larger dilated vessels appear and are raised, they are called varicose veins. The 2 often occur together. Spider veins most commonly occur on legs or on the face, but are also found around the ankles and other parts of the body. They can be painful. The most common complaints are aching and cramping sensations. However, tingling, burning and throbbing feelings are also reported. There are preventive measures that can be combined with 1 of the possible treatment options.


Causes of Spider Veins

There are numerous causes of spider veins; although pin-pointing a direct cause is not simple. Spider veins do tend to run in families; however, more women than men have them because female hormones tend to exacerbate them. This is why women going through puberty or pregnancy, or who are using birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy often see them develop. Fair-skinned people can develop these visible blood vessels from too much sun exposure. Still, other folks may get them as the result of an injury, or even from wearing girdles or hosiery bands that are too tight. Even standing too much can be a cause. Occasionally, spider veins can lead to swelling, ulcers, and rarely thrombophlebitis, a painful and inflamed blood clot.


Treatment Options for Spider Veins

Treatments for spider veins range from changes in lifestyle to injections to surgery. As far as lifestyle changes; losing weight, walking and taking good care of the skin are all recommended. Other options include wearing supportive hosiery to alleviate the pain, radiofrequency occlusion, surgery, laser treatments and sclerotherapy.


Obviously, surgery is the most invasive treatment and is usually left as a last resort for the larger varicose veins. Radiofrequency occlusion involves inserting a small catheter into the vein that sends energy which causes the wall of the vein to heat, collapse and seal shut.


There are a variety of types of laser treatments. Endovenous laser treatment uses a small laser fiber that is inserted into the vein and uses light pulses to make the vein collapse. This works because the hemoglobin in the blood absorbs the light. Other laser treatment options use heat energy to damage and destroy the veins. The upside for many patients is that these types of treatment do not require any insertion of a needle. However, there can still be some discomfort and sometimes staining, discoloration or blistering occurs.


Finally, sclerotherapy involves the insertion of a solution with a fine needle into the vein. This works by causing irritation to the blood vessel which makes it swell, stick together and causes the blood to clot. Over time, usually a matter of 3 to 6 weeks, the blood vessel becomes scar tissue and fades away. This may take several treatments, but is fairly simple, inexpensive and an out-patient procedure.


Whether you have developed spider veins through a life change like pregnancy, through heredity, or by any other cause, there are solutions available. Talking to a qualified doctor is the best way to pinpoint the ideal solution for your needs.

Blog written by Susan Evans, MD
Dr. Susan Evans is an internationally acclaimed, health and beauty expert one of Oprah's and Dr. Oz's healthy skin and beauty...