What Are Spider Veins?
Spider veins (telangiectasias) are small, thin blood vessels visible beneath the skin. They usually develop on the face or legs, and may look like a series of thin tree branches or strands of a spider web. Although most spider veins are only a cosmetic issue, for some people they can cause uncomfortable symptoms such as aching, burning, swelling and leg-cramping.
Spider veins are extremely common, affecting nearly half of the adult population of the United States. Many patients are bothered when spider veins develop on prominent areas such as the legs or face, and seek treatment to eliminate them. Many spider-vein treatments are highly effective and minimally invasive, offering aesthetically pleasing results without painful or lengthy downtime.
Causes Of And Risk Factors For Spider Veins
Spider veins develop from a backflow of blood in the veins. This condition, which results from damaged valves in the veins, is called “venous reflux.” As blood collects in these veins, their walls distend. This increases the size of the veins, and makes them visible under the surface of the skin. Risk factors for developing spider veins include the following:
- Increasing age
- Hormonal changes
- Lack of exercise
- Sun exposure
Having a family history of spider veins is also a risk factor for developing them.
Diagnosis And Treatment Of Spider Veins
Spider veins, which are diagnosed through a physical examination of the patient, an analysis of symptoms and, sometimes, diagnostic ultrasound, can be treated in a number of ways, all of which are minimally invasive.
The simplest solution for treating spider veins is for the patient to wear compression stockings, which put pressure on the affected veins and promote blood flow back to the heart. This method is designed to control the symptoms of spider veins, not remove them.
Sclerotherapy involves injecting a sclerosant, a solution designed to collapse them, into the veins. This procedure is performed in a doctor’s office. Each treatment takes approximately one hour, and a typical patient requires two to four treatments.
Laser Treatment Of Spider Veins
Spider veins, also known as telangiectasias, are small, thin blood vessels visible beneath the skin. They appear most commonly on the face and legs, and may look like a series of lines, tree branches or spider webs. Spider veins are caused by a variety of factors, including heredity, pregnancy and weight gain. Some people experience painful symptoms such as aching, burning, swelling and cramping from spider veins, while others are simply bothered by their appearance.
Treatment for spider veins can be done through traditional sclerotherapy or through more advanced and minimally invasive laser procedures. Laser treatment for spider veins offers patients:
- Fewer side effects
- Less trauma
- Shorter treatment time
- Shorter recovery time
- Minimal downtime
There are several different types of laser treatment available, including endovenous laser treatment, or EVLT, which treats large veins by passing a laser fiber through a catheter directly into the vein. Veins just under the surface of the skin can be treated with a simpler laser procedure over the course of several treatment sessions. After performing a physical examination and going over a patient’s medical history and general health, the doctor will decide which procedure is best for each individual patient.
The above treatments have fewer side effects, cause less pain and have shorter recovery times than traditional surgical-vein-removal procedures.
Prevention Of Spider Veins
Although there is no sure way to prevent spider veins, making certain lifestyle changes may reduce the risk of developing them. Lifestyle changes include losing weight, exercising regularly, and wearing support stockings and comfortable, flat shoes. It is also important to move the legs frequently, especially during long periods of sitting or standing in one place.
Schedule a consultation
To learn more about spider veins and treatment options, call (713) 349-8346 to schedule a consultation at Vein Center Houston.