Over time, what may have started as a tiny spider vein can become a legitimate problem. We call these broken blood vessels' spider veins' because of their web-like shape. In actuality, they are broken blood vessels: veins that are not properly returning blood to our heart. They can be unpleasant to look at and – in some cases – indicate a medical problem.
As we age, our veins get older too. Our veins have valves to make sure that blood continues to flow to the heart. If those valves don't work well, blood backs up, causing spider veins and varicose veins in more severe cases.
Spider veins usually develop on legs and faces, which can be a significant cosmetic concern. Genetics, injury, disease, sun exposure, hormones, diet, and prolonged sitting or standing can all be causes of spider veins. The American Society for Dermatologic Surgery tells us that most of us will see some level of vein malfunction during our lives. Women are more susceptive due to hormonal factors: over forty percent of women experience vein issues, with 4 out of 5 women having problems by the time they reach the age of 80.
4 Tips to Deal With Spider Veins
- Get a complete medical exam: Especially when it comes to tackling leg veins, patients must be entirely evaluated to assure that the appearance of spider veins is not linked to an underlying circulatory issue. Also, the physician needs a thorough understanding of the nature and scope of the vein injury to use a tailored, practical approach.
- Where are your spider veins? The type of treatment used depends on where the blemishes are. In general, we use laser and light-based treatments on the face, where spider veins may appear due to conditions such as rosacea. For legs blemishes, we often use chemical injections called sclerotherapy. Another newer treatment for spider veins on the legs is endovenous laser therapy (EVLT).
- Don't expect instant results: Whether chemical or laser, spider-vein therapies work by disrupting the problem veins so that they eventually dissolve and disappear, with blood flow rerouted to fully operating veins. It takes three to six weeks for blood flow to be entirely rerouted, so you won't see results instantly. It is also possible if your spider veins are severe that you might need more than one treatment to fully address them.
- Take steps to prevent new spider veins: Treating spider veins will not prevent new ones, so be ready to take steps to prevent new spider veins from popping up. Keep active and watch your weight, limit sun exposure, avoid showers that are too hot, and don't sit or stand for too long. Make sure you wear comfortable clothing that isn't too tight, and whenever you can, wear compression hose.
Above all, it's helpful for patients to know that while spider veins are unavoidable for many of us, there are powerful treatment options available if you want to minimize their impact.