Spider veins don’t generally present major health risks, but there are plenty of reasons for patients to seek treatment.
The veins in our bodies contain tiny valves that keep blood flowing efficiently toward the heart. When these valves malfunction, blood often pools in the extremities, leading to the formation of unsightly spider and varicose veins.
While spider veins and varicose veins are similar — they’re caused by the same condition, venous insufficiency — they differ in several key ways. Spider veins tend to be small blue, purple, or red lines that may cause itching or burning sensations, but in many cases are painless. Varicose veins, on the other hand, are more serious. They are frequently larger, have a lumpy or twisted appearance, and may cause swelling and discomfort. Varicose veins can also lead to a number of other serious health conditions, including venous ulcers.
While spider veins aren’t typically a serious condition, they can make patients self-conscious and even increase their risk of developing varicose veins. Here’s what you need to know about spider veins and getting treatment.Risk Factors for Spider Veins
There are a few factors that increase a person’s risk of developing spider veins. These include:
- Age. Valves can weaken over time, especially for veins in the legs, which are responsible for pumping blood back up to the rest of the body.
- Gender. Women tend to be more likely to develop spider veins.
- Genetics. The vast majority of patients with spider veins have a family member who also has them.
- Hormones. Birth control and menopause treatments can weaken vein valves, leading to the development of spider veins.
- Pregnancy. Increased blood flow and the weight of the fetus put more pressure on veins during pregnancy. Spider veins often fade after delivery, but this is not always the case.
- Weight. Extra body weight can place added pressure on leg veins and cause spider veins to appear.
- Lifestyle: Both sitting and standing for extended periods of time can lead to a greater risk of developing spider veins.
Treatment Options for Spider Veins
There are a few different ways to treat spider veins, most of which are quick and relatively pain-free.
One of the most common methods is laser therapy, which uses a powerfully focused beam of light to collapse fine veins. It’s a non-invasive procedure that takes around 15 minutes to complete, often with minimal discomfort, though topical anesthetics can be applied to sensitive areas prior to treatment. Laser therapy is effective on all skin types and the majority of patients are able to go about their day normally following treatment.
Another even more popular treatment is called sclerotherapy. This involves injecting a solution directly into the affected vein, which causes the vein walls to seal shut. The body reabsorbs the vein over the next few weeks, causing it to fade. Some veins may require more than one round of treatment, but the good news is that sclerotherapy is an out-patient procedure that typically doesn’t require anesthesia.
Laser treatment and sclerotherapy can be used together for better results, and both are effective treatments for varicose veins, as well. Patients are often asked to wear compression stockings following their procedure to improve the treatment’s effectiveness.
Get Treatment Today
The team of vascular specialists at the Kimmel Institute specializes in non-invasive vein treatments. Our vein experts help each patient receive the treatment they need in order to get back to living their lives to the fullest. If you’re interested in spider vein treatment, or have additional questions about vein health, contact us today.