Spider Veins

Updated on: January 26, 2016

Please see our updated and revised article about spider veins.

Spider veins (also known as telangiectasias) are small "star" shaped bluish veins which are often found on the legs. Spider veins, unlike varicose veins, are very superficial and close to the skin surface. They are called spider because from the dark center of the vein are linear radiating smaller veins. They are more prominent on the thigh, just below the knee and around the face. Spider veins are more often visible in light skinned people and appear to be more common in females. The smaller spider veins may resolve on their own but the majority persist and get darker. Spider veins never cause any symptoms and are of only a cosmetic concern.

Can spider veins cause leg swelling or pain?

No, Spider veins are so minute and superficial that they do not cause any symptoms. In any individual with complaints of pain or muscle aches, another cause must be suspected.

What causes spider veins?

Spider veins usually appear spontaneously. There is an association of spider veins with prolonged standing, obesity, pregnancy and minor trauma. Spider veins do run in families and are most commonly seen in females. Any condition that increases the pressure in the superficial veins will cause spider veins.

What is the treatment of spider veins?

Spider veins can be treated with either:

Surgery is never used to treat spider veins.

Can spider veins anywhere on the body be treated?

Yes, lasers have been used successfully to treat spider veins in most parts of the body

Can Spider veins be cured permanently?

No, there is no treatment available today that can permanently cure spider veins. With any type of treatment, spider veins will recur sometime in the future.

How effective are lasers for spider veins?

Laser is an excellent option for treatment of spider veins. It does not require the use of any injections and is a much faster procedure compared to sclerotherapy. However, most individuals require repeat sessions. The laser works by destroying the small veins so that blood can no longer collect in them.

What is sclerotherapy?

Sclerotherapy is a procedure which requires the use of a chemical to destroy the spider veins. It involves injections of a special chemical (sclerosing chemical) with a fine needle in each spider vein. The procedure is time consuming and a little painful. After the procedure, compression stockings have to be worn for the first 2-7 days.

Do I need to remove my spider veins?

Absolutely not. All spider veins are only of a cosmetic nuisance. They do not cause any symptoms. So treatment is only done to improve the cosmesis. There is no harm if spider veins are left alone

Which is preferable treatment for spider veins: LASER OR SCLEROTHERAPY?

Even though sclerotherapy has been used for decades and is safe, it is now replaced by laser. Laser treatment does not require the use of multiple injections, is relatively painless, recovery is faster and the results are much better.

What is the disadvantage of laser over sclerotherapy for spider veins?

Laser therapy is slightly more expensive than sclerotherapy. Laser therapy is fast becoming the procedure of choice.

When should I get my spider veins treated?

Since spider veins are only of a cosmetic nuisance, the treatment is strictly elective and can be done any time. In those individuals who are obese, it is best to get the spider veins treated after losing some weight. Continued weight gain increases the chance of recurrence

When should a pregnant female get her spider veins treated?

Because spider veins tend to become more prominent during pregnancy, it is best to wait until the pregnancy is over.

Can spider veins recur?

Although spider veins can develop during subsequent pregnancies, previously treated veins should not reoccur. Spider veins can be removed but new ones can always occur. Most people who have spider veins have a predisposition and despite treatment, new veins will appear in the coming years. There is no cure for spider veins.

Are there any creams available to remove spider veins?

No, despite the numerous ads, there are no such creams. Only camouflage agents are available.

How can I prevent spider veins?

Since there is no cure for spider veins, prevention is the key. Preventive measures should include:

  • avoid prolonged standing
  • wear compression stockings
  • exercise daily
  • keep your weight under control

Who can fix spider veins?

Spider veins can be treated by both cosmetic surgeons, plastic surgeons and dermatologists. There are numerous spas and clinics which are operated by non physicians and it is best to avoid them for safety reasons.

Does insurance cover spider vein treatments?

Unfortunately, spider veins are considered cosmetic in nature and the cost of treatment is not covered by any insurance companies. The cost of treating spider veins ranges from $200-300.

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