Spider veins are small red, purple, or blue vessels that are easily visible through the skin. Although the health risk is minimal, they can be unsightly or cause significant leg discomfort after prolonged standing. In some cases, however, spider veins located near the ankles can be an early sign, or the result of, underlying Varicose Veins.
They appear on the skin as small webs of thin lines with blue, red, and purple colors. However, unlike Varicose Veins, these veins rarely bulge.
Causes & Risk Factors
The main cause of spider veins is hormones which typically affect women. If you’re using hormonal treatments or are on hormonal birth control, it can increase your risk for spider veins.
High pressure caused by Varicose Veins can also result in spider veins. In this case, once your venous hypertension is resolved the remaining spider veins can be treated, be reabsorbed by the body, and disappear.
Genetics is also a determinant for whether or not you’ll get spider veins. In fact, the primary cause of vein disease is heredity which accounts for nearly 80% of cases. The unfortunate truth is that if your grandparents and parents and/or other relatives have had varicose or spider veins, you may very well suffer, too. So, those with a family history of spider veins are 90% more likely to develop them.
Spider veins are the most common vein condition, typically occurring more frequently in women than men.
Other factors that can cause spider veins include:
There is also a relationship between multiple pregnancies, hormones, and vein disease, but this does not mean a woman should wait until she has had all her planned pregnancies before seeking relief.
Patients also certainly perceive it as more common as they age because the disease has had longer to make its symptoms known, is more advanced, and has done more damage. People suffer unnecessarily for years. Spider veins are also the most common type of vein disease and affect up to 80% of women over age forty.
It is important to understand that vein disease is not merely a function of age; it does occur in young people.
Signs & Symptoms
- Swelling in the legs and/or ankles
- Tired, achy, fatigued, or heavy feeling in the legs especially after standing for longer durations
- Itchy skin
If you recognize these symptoms in yourself, you should come in and see Dr. Perlmutter for an accurate diagnosis.
Roughly 25% of people living with spider veins have an underlying vein disease that’s causing them to occur, especially if the spider veins are close to the ankles.
Diagnosis & Treatment
During your initial consultation, the IVS medical team and Dr. Perlmutter will determine whether or not the spider veins are a sign of more serious vein disease or simply a cosmetic concern with a Venous Ultrasound.
If your venous ultrasound does not show any signs of indwelling venous disease we will then talk with you in detail about Sclerotherapy.
Sclerotherapy is the most effective treatment for spider veins. The veins are closed off through the injection of a sclerosing agent, making the webs of lines on your legs disappear over time.
Preventing Spider Veins
While there is no prevention for having spider veins, the best approach is to stay diligent and seek treatment when they appear. The majority of our Sclerotherapy patients come in yearly post their initial treatment sessions for maintenance and upkeep.