Most people think all visible leg veins are spider veins. In fact, spider veins and varicose veins are very different.
A large percentage of our patients seek treatment for what they assume is a spider vein. That’s why it’s so important to receive an accurate diagnosis by a specialist in vein care. This will prevent you from spending a lot of money treating veins that will never clear up or will reoccur because of the presence of an underlying issue, such as vein disease.
We make every effort to educate our patients on the difference between a true spider vein and varicose veins. Check our Symptoms & Treatments FAQs for more details.
Spider veins, medically referred to as Telangiectasias, are small, dilated blood vessels, usually under 3mm in diameter that appear near the surface of the skin. These superficial blood vessels can be red, blue or even purple in color and commonly occur in the legs. However, they can be found on the face (rosacea) and other areas of the body, and have been linked to excessive sun exposure. Treatment for veins on the face and the body is much more delicate and thus is treated differently than spider veins on the legs.
These dilated blood vessels are small, about the width of a hair, and often form sunburst-like patterns. While some have the appearance of a spider web, other may resemble a tree with branches. Depending on factors such as lifestyle, health issues and physical appearance, spider veins will look different on everyone. Some patients may even see them as small clusters of light patches vs. the spidery appearance described.
Spider veins, while not preventable, are easily and effectively treated with sclerotherapy treatments. Sclerotherapy involves a series of injections of a sclerosing solution that allows the vein walls to collapse, close off, and absorb into the body allowing the blood to reroute through healthier veins. This treatment allows for a nearly 90% chance for a greatly improved appearance and look.
Both men and women can develop spider veins, although women are more likely to develop them as a result of pregnancy and hormonal effects.
Although spider veins cannot be prevented, there are things patients can do to minimize their appearance and speed recovery after treatments:
- Wear support hose or mild compression stockings to minimize the pressure on these unwanted blood vessels
- Maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly, especially cardio-based workouts to promote circulation
- Avoid high heeled shoes which cause unnecessary pressure on the vessels that sit just under the skin.