It’s no fun to wear a pair of shorts when you have spider veins. Some people try to disguise them up with make-up, but it’s a challenge to completely cover them. Spider veins are referred to as telangiectasia in the medical world, and they’re a common problem, particularly among women. Telangiectasias are dilated blood vessels that lie close to the surface of the skin. They get their name from the fact that they resemble a spider in shape. It’s common for people to have them on the legs, but other areas of the body can be affected, even the face.
What Causes Them?
They form when a tear occurs in a vein or tiny capillary, allowing blood to leak out into the tissue. Spider veins are more common in women, especially during pregnancy. This is because levels of pregnancy-related hormones rise and cause the walls of veins to weaken. Being overweight and standing for prolonged periods of time also increases the risk of telangiectasias in the legs by putting additional pressure on the veins. Women who take birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy are more prone to spider veins because the hormones weaken the walls of veins just like pregnancy. Genetics play a role too since they often run in families. Injury to a vein can also cause it to malfunction, leading to a telangiectasia. Exposure to sunlight often worsens their appearance.
Telangiectasias on the face and upper body can sometimes be caused by an underlying medical problem including some hereditary conditions. People with the skin condition called rosacea sometimes have spider veins on their face as a part of their skin disease. These can be some of the most frustrating symptoms to deal with since they are very visible and difficult to conceal.
First, it’s important to wear a sunscreen to avoid sun damage and refrain from smoking and drinking alcohol in excess as these are all factors that can make spider veins worse. Creams that contain vitamin K may help to strengthen the veins of walls and repair some of the damage that causes them to leak.
A more expensive treatment option is sclerotherapy. This involves injecting the veins with a saline solution. This irritates the vein and causes it to collapse. To locate the leaky veins more precisely, ultrasound can be used. There can be side effects with this procedure, and a small number of people have an allergic reaction to the saline solution.
Laser therapy can also be used to treat telangiectasias. It may be the best option for veins that haven’t responded to topical treatments and are too small to inject. One problem with laser treatment and sclerotherapy is the cost. It may require several visits to get adequate results, and sometimes the spider veins come back, requiring further treatment. It can also take several months for the skin to completely heal after these procedures.
The Bottom Line?
Spider veins are a common problem. They’re usually not painful like varicose veins, but most people want to treat them for cosmetic reasons. There are expensive treatments like sclerotherapy and laser treatments, but they require healing time, and there can be complications. It’s safer and less expensive to try a topical vitamin K cream before opting for professional treatments.