The small damaged veins appearing on the surface of the skin, generally, on face or legs are called Spider veins. They are red, purple or blue in color and are generally flat or have a slight bulge.
For cosmetic reasons, people wish to remove them, otherwise, they do not cause any harm or pain. As the name suggests, Spider veins appear like webs, branches or thin lines.
Causes For Spider Veins
Veins are blood vessels that carry blood back to the heart. There are valves in the veins that ensure that the blood flows only in one direction. When valves develop a fault, the blood starts collecting or pooling in the veins. This pooling of blood causes the veins to bulge, leading to development of spider veins.
Bursting of tiny blood vessels causes spider veins on the face. This can happen due to sun burn or because of increased pressure of blood in the veins.
Factors that increase the risk of developing Spider Veins
This is the most important factor as almost 90% of people with the family history of Spider veins are likely to get them.
Women are more affected than men.
With increasing age, the valves get weak and also the calf muscles that support the veins. This increases the risk of developing Spider veins.
Being overweight puts pressure on the veins leading to spider veins.
The body weight increases during pregnancy, putting more pressure on the veins in the legs.
Skin conditions like Rosacea increase the risk of spider veins.
This is a hormone that is used in treating menopause. It is known to weaken vein valves and thus cause Spider veins.
Sunlight has UV rays that damage the skin and cause broken blood vessels or spider veins. This is more common on the face.
Too Much Pressure In The Face
Spider veins on the face may be caused in women after pushing during childbirth. The forceful coughing, sneezing, or vomiting can also lead to this condition.
History Of Blood Clot or Vein Damage
Any damage to valves of the veins in the past or a blood clot hampers the normal working of the veins.
Sitting or Standing For Long Periods
Sitting or standing for several hours at a time causes the veins in the legs to work harder to pump blood against gravity and towards the heart.
Preventing new spider veins
Small changes in lifestyle and self-care help prevent the development of new spider veins.
Drinking alcohol causes broken blood vessels in some people. It also causes flushing in the face. Therefore, excessive alcohol consumption is to be avoided.
Reduce Exposure To Direct Sunlight
To prevent the spider veins on the face, use sunscreen and also umbrella or hats that block the sun.
It is advisable not to sit or stand for extended periods. One should get up and walk around every 30 minutes.
Avoid Excessive Heat
Hot tubs and saunas have excessive heat that can cause veins to swell. This may lead to bulging and dilated veins in the legs.
Taking care of skin conditions
Skin conditions like Rosacea increase the risk of spider veins. Treat the skin conditions promptly.
Exercise improves blood circulation and this prevents blood from pooling or getting collected in the legs.
Healthy Body Weight
A healthy body weight helps to reduce pressure on the veins.
Wear Compression Stockings
If you have a genetic predisposition for developing spider veins, it is advisable to wear compression socks or stockings.
Raising The Legs
Elevating the legs when sitting or lying down prevents blood from pooling in the legs.
No tight clothing
Tight clothing restricts blood flow and increases the risk of spider veins.
Treatment by Laser
Laser treatment is used to clot and dry up the spider vein. Spider veins close to the surface of the skin and smaller than 3 millimeters are generally treated by laser.
Endovenous Laser Therapy
This procedure involves making a small incision in the affected vein followed by inserting a laser fiber. Heat applied directly to the vein through laser causes it to collapse. It may take several months or up to a year for the vein to disappear. Anesthesia is used while performing this procedure.
Surgery is not used generally to treat spider veins.
The affected vein is injected with an irritant. The irritation causes the walls of the vein to stick together and prevents blood from flowing into the area. With the passing time, the spider vein fades or vanishes.
Closure system treatment involves injecting a sticky substance into the affected veins. This substance closes the vein off from blood flow, which causes the spider vein to fade or disappear with time.
Who performs sclerotherapy or closure system?
- Plastic surgeons
- Cosmetic surgeons
- Vein specialists
- Trained nurses
Sclerotherapy and closure systems are non surgical procedures. For the spider veins to disappear, it takes around 6 weeks.
Multiple treatments are sometimes needed to get rid of spider veins.
Compression Stockings Or Socks
Compression stockings support healthy blood flow in the lower legs. By improving the flow of blood, the further development of spider veins is prevented. Compression stockings help relieve swelling in the legs and reduce the risk of blood clots in them.
Types of compression stockings:
- Prescription compression stockings: These are most effective in applying pressure to the feet and legs. As the name suggests, these are only available on the prescription of a medical practitioner. They are available in varying size and strengths and also footless varieties.
Note: These stockings are not suitable for everyone. People with heart problems are not recommended to use them.
- Support pantyhose: These employ only light pressure and are freely available in pharmacies and online.
- Gradient compression stockings and socks: Used for applying medium pressure around the feet, ankles, and calves, these are often available from specialist and medical stores. You can also get them online.
- Using cover-up products. The appearance of spider veins can be masked by using cover-up products, even self-tanning products.