Spider Veins 101

What are Spider Veins?

Spider veins are small tiny, web like looking veins that appear on the surface of the skin, most commonly on the legs or the face. They can be red, purple or even blue in color. They are caused by structural abnormalities of blood vessels. The primary function of veins is to carry blood back to the heart from other body parts of the body. These veins have one way valves which allow blood to flow in one direction without any backflow. Due to unknown causes, these valves sometimes become defective which cause the backflow of blood. This backflow of blood causes the pooling of blood and the increase of pressure in the veins which weakens the walls of the blood vessels. The constant enlargement and dilation on the veins is the reason spider veins develop.

This condition is mainly common in adults and they are more likely to be seen in females than males. Some risk factors of this condition include; genetics, injury, prolonged sitting or standing, obesity, pregnancy, birth control pills, a history of blood clot or prior vein surgery. Complications from having spider veins are highly unlikely but on occasion they can lead to the formation of skin ulcers. They can be diagnosed by a doctor through visual examination and recommended treatment for these unsightly veins include support stockings or lifestyle changes e.g. diet and exercise, elevating legs while sitting or sleeping to improve circulation, avoiding standing and sitting for too long. Also, there are medical procedures that can be done to minimize the appearance of spider veins such as Sclerotherapy, and Ambulatory Phlebectomy. With Sclerotherapy, this procedure involves injecting the veins with a solution that closes the veins, causing the blood to reroute through healthier veins. In a matter of weeks, spider veins begin to fade. Ambulatory phlebectomy is a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure that removes superficial veins through a small, slit-like incision in the skin.

Though spider veins are not a health threat, their red and blue appearance make them unsightly. One may practice healthy habits to help to prevent them e.g. living a healthy life style, not crossing legs while being seated, and not wearing tight fitted clothes around the groin, legs and waist. 

“Spider and Varicose Veins Pictures Slideshow: Causes, Before-and-After Treatment Images on Medicinenet.com.” MedicineNet. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2016.
“Spider Veins: How Are They Removed?” – Mayo Clinic. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2016.

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