What causes spider veins? | Allure Medical

What causes spider veins?

Matt Hirsch Vein Health, Veins

Spider veins are often confused with varicose veins, mostly because they have the same causes. They do have a different appearance, however, and different symptoms associated with them. Let’s take a look at the symptoms, what causes them, and how you can treat them if you suffer from these vein issues.

Symptoms of spider veins

Spider veins are small, discolored veins which may appear blue or purple. They are visible on the surface of the skin and may have a spider web-like appearance, which is where the name comes from. They are usually not painful, which is good news for those who have them.

They differ from varicose veins symptoms as these are often more painful. They can otherwise make your legs feel numb or fatigued. What’s more, they are often bulging from the legs, which makes them a lot more prominent in appearance. If untreated, in extreme cases, varicose veins can even cause painful ulcers on the legs. This varicose vein pain is what really sets it aside from spider veins, as you will obviously be more likely to seek treatment when something is causing you physical discomfort.

Restless leg syndrome may also be linked to vein issues, though it is not entirely clear what the connection is. Your legs may also swell, perhaps temporarily, after you have been sitting or standing for a long time.

Cause of spider veins

So, let’s move on to take a look at what causes both spider veins and varicose veins. There are valves within your veins which allow blood to pass only in one direction, but they close up in order to stop the blood from flowing back the wrong way. This is known as refluxing.

When the valves become diseased, however, they are unable to close properly. This is when the refluxing can occur, which is why you end up with these bulges or discolorations in your legs. This is known as venous insufficiency.

Varicose veins can happen to anyone with venous insufficiency, but when spider veins develop, it is usually due to one or more factors which make them more likely. Obesity is one of these causes, as is pregnancy. The onset of puberty or menopause can also cause some spider veins to appear, and you can even be more likely to develop them due to hereditary factors.

Prolonged standing or injuries to your legs may also make them more likely to appear, as this causes damage within your veins.

Spider Vein Treatment (or Varicose Vein Treatment)

It’s important that you go to a specialist vein doctor for your treatment, as they will know exactly what to do to help you reduce your spider veins. This is usually a cosmetic procedure as you are unlikely to be experiencing pain from your spider veins, but you might feel self-conscious or unhappy with the appearance of your legs.

Sclerotherapy may be used, which involves injecting liquid into the vein in order to seal it shut. You could also try endovenous laser treatment, or EVLT, vascular laser therapy. This involves using lasers to seal the veins, and though it does require a vein specialist, it can be done in less than an hour. Compression therapy can be effective, but will need to be followed with aftercare treatments such as exercise programs, wrapping, massage, compression stockings, or a compression pump.

There are plenty of options for vein treatment which you can pursue when you see a specialist vein doctor, someone who is experienced and knowledgeable in this field.