What Are the Risk Factors for Spider Veins?

For a majority of patients, spider veins represent a cosmetic rather than a medical problem.  Their typically red or blue color is particularly noticeable in fair-skinned individuals.  When these blood vessels present a big enough cosmetic issue, patients can experience a dip in self-confidence.  Knowing the risk factors for developing a spider vein problem is helpful in taking steps to prevent these troublesome vessels and to reduce stress during treatment.

Spider Veins Overview

Wake Forest® Baptist Health notes that the medical name for a spider vein is a telangiectasia.  This kind of vessel is smaller than a typical varicose vein but can enlarge as time passes.  These veins tend to form in clusters and get their name from the appearance of a spider web.

Some physicians believe a spider vein is a kind of varicose vein that forms on the legs, face, ankles, or thighs.  Others consider it a distinct type.  Vein doctors see some patients who also have medical symptoms such as itching or pain.

Up to half of U.S. adults have these veins, according to the Cleveland Clinic.  They form after blood pools inside a vein because of a defective valve.  They occur more often in women than in men.

Risk Factors

These are the most common risk factors experienced by patients treated at a vein clinic:

  • Prior vascular problems in the family
  • Advancing age
  • Sitting or standing for long periods
  • Carrying too much weight
  • Hormonal changes linked to pregnancy
  • Birth control pill usage
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Tight clothes
  • Sitting with crossed legs for prolonged periods
  • Earlier blood clots
  • Injury to a vein
  • Medical conditions such as heart failure that raise abdominal pressure

Other risk factors include:

  • Using topical steroids
  • Exposure to ultraviolet rays
  • Previous vein surgery
  • Injury or trauma to the skin

Individuals who face these risk factors can make lifestyle changes to help prevent the development of a spider vein problem.  Examples include shedding excess weight and reducing the time spent of their feet.

Options at a Vein Treatment Center

The specialists who treat vein problems are typically vascular surgeons.  They typically rely on two kinds of treatment to eliminate a spider vein issue:

  • Sclerotherapy is often called the gold standard of spider vein treatment.  It is also useful for some small varicose veins.  Using a very fine needle, a vein doctor injects a special solution called a sclerosant into each problem vessel.  The sclerosant irritates the vein’s walls, causing them to stick to each other.  The body eventually absorbs the vein.
  • The VeinGogh Ohmic Thermolysis System is ideal for vessels too small for vascular surgeons to treat with sclerotherapy.  Vein doctors sometimes use it in conjunction with sclerotherapy.  It is appropriate for any skin type.  The technology relies on the conversion of microbursts of electrical energy to heat.