Understanding Spider Veins

Who gets spider veins?

Spider veins can occur in men or women of any age, but most frequently affect women of childbearing years and older. They tend to ‘run’ in families but are not only a result of your genetic makeup.  Aging, injury or trauma to the veins can also result in the development of spider veins as well as sitting or standing in one position for long periods of time.

What causes spider veins?

Spider veins are not entirely understood. Spider veins are those veins that are thin red or purple veins, generally less than 1 mm in diameter.  Some people have a genetic tendency to grow many spider veins while they do not develop the large, ropey varicose veins while others will get large varicose and very few spider veins.  Another belief is that spider veins develop by the body sensing other veins going bad so it grows new veins to replace the bad ones.  Spider veins can develop from injury or trauma to a vein, venous congestion, phlebitis (inflammation of a vein) or having a blood clot (thrombosis).  Often times, the degree of vein disease cannot be determined by visual inspection.  Multiple spider veins may be an indication of venous reflux disease that is underlying and not visible on the skin surface.  A thorough ultrasound is the only way to accurately diagnose venous reflux disease.

What can I do to prevent spider veins?

Sometimes nothing.  If you have a genetic predisposition to develop them, they can occur without any causative factor.  However, wearing knee high compression stockings will help improve the health of your veins by encouraging proper blood flow.  Lifestyle modifications that can help prevent the progression of vein disease include;

  • Avoid sitting or standing in one position for long periods of time
  • Exercise regularly
  • Stay hydrated, eat healthy and maintain a normal weight
  • A 5 minute walk every hour is beneficial especially if you have a job requiring you to sit or stand in one position.  If that is impossible, doing toe raises for 5 minutes every hour will help.

Can spider veins be treated?

Yes.  But it is considered a cosmetic treatment.  Spider veins may be unsightly, cause some discomfort and on occasion may bleed, but they generally do not cause physical problems that interfere with daily living and insurances generally will not cover the treatment.

Will they come back?

Once a vein is treated, it is destroyed and cannot come back but that does not mean you won’t develop new veins in the same general area.  Whatever risk factor you had to develop them in the first place is probably still part of you and you will most likely get new veins at some point in your life.  Following the steps for prevention is important.

If you would like more information on spider veins, please contact our office and one of the members of our team will be happy to talk with you!

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