You have probably heard the term numerous times, but may be wondering exactly what we mean when we speak about “spider veins.” Not everyone has them, but some people develop thin lines or small clusters of veins, usually red or blue (or purple) in color, which become noticeable on your skin’s surface. They tend to appear on the legs or feet, most commonly on the thighs, on the calves, or on the ankles, although they can also appear on the face. For many women, this is a condition that becomes obvious later in life, but for others, it is a problem that appears at a relatively young age. They are similar to varicose veins, but tend to be smaller and closer to the surface of the skin. They can look like the branch of a tree or like a spider web (hence the name).
If you suffer from spider veins, you are certainly not alone. It is estimated that over 40% of all women will have abnormal leg veins by the time they reach their 50’s. There are a number of different potential causes of spider veins in the legs. They include:
Genes. Heredity is probably the greatest factor in whether, and when, a person develops spider veins. This includes being born with weak vein valves.
Hormonal changes. Shifts in your hormone levels during puberty, pregnancy or menopause, as well as taking estrogen, birth control pills, progesterone, and similar drugs, can cause the development of spider veins.
Other factors. Age, injuries, obesity and fluctuations in weight, standing for long periods (hours on the job, for example), and other factors can also contribute to the development of spider veins.
Spider veins do not ordinarily require treatment. On the other hand, they can become both uncomfortable and unattractive. There are a number of different treatments available for reducing spider veins. The most common method is called sclerotherapy. This treatment involves the injection of a solution, which causes the inside of the vein to become irritated, and eventually the vein fades. Other options also exist, and include laser treatment.
If you are bothered by spider veins, speak to your cosmetic surgeon about which treatment is right for you.