Why Do I Have All These Spider Veins?

If you’re like many patients, spider veins took you by surprise.  These red weblike veins tend to form in groups near the surface of the skin, most often in the legs.  The medical name for these collections of blood vessels is telangiectasias.  Individuals who visit a vein treatment center with cosmetic concerns about these tiny vessels wonder what caused them, how to eliminate them, and how to help prevent more.

Spider Vein Facts

Unlike varicose veins, these vessels usually create no health problems.  However, like the cause of varicose veins, theirs is weak vein valves that allow blood that should be circulating toward the heart to fall backward.  Vein doctors explain that pressure from pooled blood stretches a vessel, causing it to expand and eventually appear as a spider or a varicose vein.

The Cleveland Clinic notes that these abnormal veins affect between 30 and 50 percent of U.S. adults.  The most common reasons they develop include:

  • Genetics
  • Aging
  • Standing for extended periods
  • Being obese or overweight
  • Pregnancy-related hormonal changes
  • Birth control pill use
  • Hormone replacement therapy after menopause
  • Sitting with crossed legs for long periods
  • Wearing tight clothing
  • A history of one or more blood clots
  • Vein injury
  • Medical conditions that raise abdominal pressure, such as liver disease
  • Prior venous surgery
  • Ultraviolet ray exposure
  • Injury or trauma to the skin
  • Use of topical steroids

Treatment Options from Vein Doctors

The specialists who treat a spider vein problem on an outpatient basis at a vein clinic are usually vascular surgeons.  Your path to resolution begins with an initial consultation, during which the vein doctor performs a physical exam, explores your medical history, and discusses expectations.

Vascular surgeons can offer two primary medical treatment options, sclerotherapy and the use of laser and light energy, to eliminate these unwanted blood vessels.  Both techniques use minimally invasive, same-day procedures with little discomfort.  They allow a patient to quickly resume his or her daily schedule.  However, neither treatment can prevent the formation of new abnormal veins.  For this reason, some patients return periodically to a vein clinic for additional treatment sessions.

Self-help Tips

The American Society for Dermatologic Surgery explains that spider vein patients can take these steps to lower their risk of new vessels:

  • Stay active.  Avoid standing or sitting for extended times.  Be sure to move at least every half an hour to boost blood flow.  Also periodically flex your calf muscles when sitting for extended periods.
  • Remain at your healthy weight.  This helps get rid of excess leg pressure.
  • Try compression stockings.  Your vein doctor can give you a prescription.
  • Avoid excessive heat.  This means steering clear of hot tubs and extended hot baths.  Both cause veins to swell and blood to pool.
  • Wear comfortable clothes.  Tight clothing around your legs, groin area, and waist can reduce circulation efficiency.