What are Spider Veins?
Spider veins are a condition of the skin in which small “spidery” veins appear under the surface of the skin. The condition is harmless and does not cause pain but it can create cosmetic discomfort. Spider veins appear most frequently on the face and on the legs. They can be red, blue or purplish in hue and are sometimes referred to as “thread veins” due to the fact that they resemble small bits of thread. They are not to be confused with varicose veins which are larger and deeper and can cause physical discomfort.
Signs and Symptoms of Spider Veins
Spider veins typically present as thin lines or branches of connected veins. Signs of spider veins include:
- Thin, flat or only minimally raised veins in clumps or connected branches
- No pain or swelling
- Red, blue or purple network of thin veins
- Can appear on the face or legs
What Causes Spider Veins?
Spider veins are damaged veins, though they do not create distress or discomfort. In the leg, a spider vein is triggered when the valves in a vein stop working efficiently. The blood fails to move back toward the heart and pools in the vein so that it is visible under the skin. Facial spider veins are typically caused by burst blood vessels. People can have a genetic predisposition to developing spider veins. Sun damage can also lead to the condition.
How Spider Veins are Treated
There are a number of ways in which you can treat spider veins. Wearing compression hosiery can help improve blood flow in the legs and lower your risk of developing spider veins if you are prone to the condition. Sclerotherapy is another treatment option, which involves injecting an irritant into the vein. Very small veins that are close to the surface can also be treated with laser therapy, which is a less invasive option. Endovenous laser therapy is a newer treatment that involves inserting a laser fiber into the vein. This treatment involves local anesthesia and can take up to a year to show results.