Spider Veins: Why They Appear and How to Treat Them
They might not be particularly painful, but spider veins still present a significant problem for many people. These small, thin lines can spread quickly underneath your skin and often resemble a spider’s web — hence the apt name.
Many people wish to treat spider veins as a cosmetic concern. Fortunately, doing so is relatively easy and pain free. As an experienced vascular and endovascular surgeon, Dr Adrian Ling has provided spider vein treatment to countless patients suffering from the condition, with great success.
What are Spider Veins?
Spider veins are small, thin lines that may be blue, red, or purple in colour. They most commonly appear on the legs and face and sit just underneath the surface of the skin.
Spider veins are a symptom of faulty veins. The role of your veins is to carry blood back to the heart, and as such, they contain a one-way valve that prevents blood from running backwards. Over time, these valves can become weakened and damaged, causing blood to pool inside the vein.
The web-like nature of spider veins is due to the veins bulging with increased pressure, to the point where they can eventually burst completely.
What causes Spider Veins?
While anyone can be affected by spider veins, there are certain individuals who are more prone to developing the condition.
Generally speaking, women are more likely to develop spider veins than men. This is for a range of complex, interrelated reasons, including the presence of certain hormones and the physical stress that accompanies pregnancy.
If you have an occupation that requires prolonged periods of standing, like a tradesperson or a nurse, the veins in your legs often bear the brunt of your weight. Those who are obese are more likely to develop spider veins, as are those who smoke.
Genetics may also play a factor. The presence of certain genes can contribute to weakened and degraded veins, factors that can lead to spider veins occurring.
Finally, as is the case with many vascular and arterial conditions, age is a significant factor. As we get older, increased wear and tear can naturally degrade vein valves. In this sense, spider veins can be seen as a natural part of the aging process.
Spider Veins vs Varicose Veins
Many people wonder if spider veins and varicose veins are the same thing. While they are quite similar, there are a few key differences between the two, largely related to size
Spider veins are very small (<1mm), damaged veins that appear as thin lines beneath the surface of your skin. Varicose veins, on the other hand, tend to be raised, twisted, and swollen and are typically >5mm in size. As a result, varicose veins can be significantly more painful than spider veins and come accompanied by a range of symptoms, including aching legs, itching, swelling, and bleeding.
Both spider and varicose veins, however, have the same root cause — faulty valves that result in blood pooling in the vein. They can also both be treated using largely the same methods.
Spider Vein Treatment options
For most people, spider veins are neither painful or physically dangerous. However, they can cause concern from a cosmetic perspective. If you are choosing not to wear particular clothing due to the appearance of spider veins or feel that they are interfering with your ability to enjoy life, there are treatments available that can get you back to doing what you love best.
Sclerotherapy is one of the most popular treatment options for spider veins. It involves injecting a solution directly into the damaged veins using a very fine needle. Doing so causes the veins to first become inflamed before shrinking and fading.
There are many advantages to this form of spider vein treatment. To start with, it is a relatively short and safe procedure, particularly when compared with surgery. It also does not require a long recovery period and most people experience very few side-effects.
As is the case with all medical procedures, there are certain candidates for whom sclerotherapy is not a good option.
Dr Adrian Ling will be able to provide you with a detailed guide as to your eligibility for certain treatments and what kind of results to expect from a procedure. Booking a consultation with Dr Ling requires a valid referral from your doctor, so it’s best to first visit a general practitioner with your concerns.
For more information and to further discuss your options relating to spider vein treatment, contact Dr Ling today.