When addressing vein problems, most people talk about varicose veins — what they are, how they affect the body, and how you can prevent or treat them. Few people, however, speak of spider veins. The truth is that spider veins are just as common as varicose veins, if not more so. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the questions doctors are often asked about spider veins.
What are spider veins?
Spider veins get their name because they look like red, blue, purple, or black spider webs spreading across your skin. Unlike varicose veins, you don’t just get them on the lower portion of your body. They can appear anywhere from your feet to your face. They have dilated blood vessels that are small and closer to the skin than varicose veins. They are usually thought to be caused by pressure on the veins.
Are spider veins serious?
Fortunately, spider veins are not a serious medical issue. Some people may feel a slight burning, itching, or pain around the skin where they are located, but in general, they don’t have any symptoms at all. If you have them in your legs, you may experience some swelling or feelings of heaviness.
Who gets spider veins?
Anyone can get spider veins. If your parents and grandparents had them, you are more likely to get them. Pregnant women, as well as people who are overweight or obese, may develop them. If you stand or sit for extended periods of time, you may also be at risk. It can be a concern for medical professionals, office workers, trucker drivers, hairdressers, people who work in retail, and anyone else who is always sitting at a desk or on their feet. Women are more likely to develop them than men, and people over the age of 55 are more likely to have them, though they can appear as early as in your 20s.
Can you prevent spider veins?
There is no sure way to prevent spider veins, especially if they run in your family. Improving your circulation and removing added pressure on your lower body may help. You can do this by:
- Performing a low-impact cardiovascular exercise, like walking, biking, or swimming, 30 minutes a day
- Elevating your legs above your heart for at last 30 minutes a day
- Taking a 5-minute break each hour if you do sit or stand all day
- Wearing loose, non-restrictive clothing and accessories
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Wearing compression stockings
- Getting regular massages
- Avoiding spending too much time in the sun and wearing sunscreen when you do
How do you get rid of spider veins?
While spider veins are not necessarily a health concern, they can be a cosmetic one for many people. Luckily, there are ways to get rid of them. Sclerotherapy is a common procedure that involves injecting a substance into the vein, causing the vein walls to collapse. Eventually, the appearance of the spider veins will fade away. Sclerotherapy is a simple procedure that typically takes about half an hour. You can go home that day and resume most normal activities within a day or two.
Another option is laser surgery. It typically works best on smaller spider veins and causes them to clot and absorb into your body’s tissue. For lighter spider veins, makeup or self-tanner may be an option for covering them up.