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Spider Veins on Legs

The appearance of spider veins on one's legs can cause a bit of embarrassment for some people. This article examines the causes, and the different ways of treating this condition.
Parashar Joshi
Last Updated: Apr 22, 2018
Appearance of spider veins on legs is a relatively common medical condition. In fact, it is such a common occurrence that most people from the medical fraternity shy away from even labeling it as a 'medical condition'.
Varicose veins are veins which, over a period of time and due to certain reasons, become swollen, enlarged, and distinctly noticeable. They are typically dark bluish or deep purple in color, and are most commonly found on the legs and on the face. Spider veins, on the other hand, are conceptually quite similar to varicose veins, except that they are smaller in size and dark red in color. Also, they exist in a clustered form, similar to the web of a spider, hence the name. The appearance of varicose and spider veins is an extremely common phenomenon which affects nearly 30 to 40 percent of the entire world's population. Generally, this condition begins to develop around the age of 40 to 45, and is more prevalent in women as compared to men. The most common places where spider and varicose veins develop are the calves, behind the knees, the inner part of the thighs, and the face.
Why Do Spider Veins Develop
  • Gradual weakening of the blood vessels with advancing age
  • Obesity
  • Extensive periods of standing or sitting in a stationary position
  • Hormonal changes during pregnancy or menopause
  • Wearing tight-fitting clothes or inner wear
  • Side effect of birth control pills
  • Hereditary or genetic reasons
Now that you are aware of the possible reasons, let us move on to the different ways of treating them.
Treatment Options
Spider veins, in most cases, are completely harmless, painless, and do not require any special medical treatment as such. A moderate to severe case makes it difficult, and at times embarrassing, for women to wear short dresses, miniskirts, or knee-length skirts. Therefore, most people are on the lookout for minor remedial procedures which would reduce the visibility and the noticeability of these veins. However, in certain cases involving swelling, cramps, blood clots, itching, pain, or severe skin discoloration, it could be necessary and advisable to take certain forms of treatment, such as:
  • Sclerotherapy: This procedure involves injecting a solution directly into the spider vein which produces a reaction and causes the blood vessel to shut down and convert into dead tissue. The dead tissue eventually gets flushed out of the body. Separate injections are required for each prominent vein. This procedure is relatively safe, painless, has few side effects and has a decent success rate. Cost wise, this method can cost between $150 to $350 per session, depending on the number of injections required.
  • Laser Treatment: This is another common way of treating spider veins that appear on legs as well as face. As the name would imply, this method uses a laser beam to burn (harmlessly) the vein tissue, which then, over a period of time, gradually fades and gets flushed out of the system. This method is particularly useful for treating small to medium-sized veins which otherwise, are too tiny to inject. Laser treatment is mostly pain-free and is typically done in multiple sessions, depending on the density and severity of the condition.
  • Ambulatory Phlebectomy: This is a surgical procedure in which the concerned varicose vein is physically removed from the leg by surgeons. This method is recommended only for extra large and superficial varicose veins.
Apart from the above-mentioned treatment methods, this ailment can be prevented or, to a certain extent, treated through regular exercise, walking, and weight control. Having a balanced diet with enough fiber also plays an important part in the prevention and treatment of spider veins.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.