What are spider veins?
These types of little veins are tiny broken capillaries. They can occur on the face and body, and when it’s the former this usually happens due to a genetic skin condition called Rosacea or extreme changes in the weather (cold, sun damage etc), even running in the hot and cold can have a bearing on thread veins in the face. Finally, lifestyle choices such as alcohol and smoking are huge factors for facial spider veins, as is excessive sun exposure.
Why are they often more noticeable on legs?
As for the body, spider veins on the legs can occur when the valves of larger veins collapse and stop working properly. Because veins carry blood flow back to the heart, they have little valves that prevent blood from flowing backward, so they have a one-way valve that closes once the blood passes through it. If this valve becomes weak or damaged, the blood may struggle to flow properly in the correct direction, and it can begin to collect inside the vein. This then causes a bulge in the vein that then tries to find a way out, so it branches out, resulting in tiny, broken spider veins.
Is it true that genetics are to blame?
It’s true that they can be due to genetics, but it’s not the sole cause. Being overweight is a high-risk factor as it puts greater pressure on the veins. This in turn causes the veins and valves to weaken and break, leading to both spider and varicose veins. Another reason they appear is people commonly sit with their legs tucked underneath them – don’t do this as it restricts blood flow. As well, sitting or standing for long periods of time can be a key cause too. Both increase pressure in the veins, so make sure you walk around and stretch out your legs every half hour or so to prevent this from happening.
Are they ever a sign of anything dangerous?
Usually not, however if you’re worried or they’ve appeared seemingly overnight, it’s always good to check with your GP and have your mind put at rest. Don’t be alarmed if you get them in pregnancy too – they commonly appear in women around this time as a result of weight gain and skin stretch.
So, is there anything you can do to prevent them worsening?
Yes. The good news is while nothing other than treatment can eradicate them, you can help to make blood flow in your legs better by walking as a gentle exercise and using compressing tights if you stand or sit for long periods of time. I also highly recommend weight loss if you’re overweight and putting your feet up whenever you watch TV or even when eating sometimes to increase healthy blood flow and prevent any existing veins from worsening.
Are they treatable?
IPL is minimally invasive and one of the key treatment options on offer. It reduces broken capillaries with little discomfort and only a few day’s recovery time. During this process, a beam of light is directed at the vessels that fragments and destroys them, the body’s own repair system takes away the debris and skin looks clear. The downside is you cannot have this treatment four weeks before or after a tan – real or fake. As well, a course of three treatments max is usually recommended. The other option on offer is Sclerotherapy which is more effective on larger veins in the legs. It is a minimally invasive procedure where salt water solution is injected into the veins, they then harden and disappear. The treatment is effective but it can take a long time – the bonus, however is that you can have it done with a tan. One injection can treat an inch of a vein and you’ll find a series of treatments are needed for the best results.
Finally, is surgery really the only answer?
I have never, ever seen spider veins disappear on their own, despite being told that they can by various people. If you’re really unhappy I always advise seeking your GP’s advice and considering the treatments I mentioned above – either IPL or sclerotherapy.
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