When spider veins begin to appear on a patient’s legs or face, the experience can be unsettling.  Although these abnormal blood vessels seldom have a connection to a serious medical problem, they can undermine self-confidence.  Understanding what causes spider veins can help prevent new veins from forming and aid in selecting a treatment option at a Houston vein clinic.

What Are They?

Another name for these abnormal vessels is telangiectasias.  These tiny blood vessels are typically red, blue, or purple and form near the surface of the skin.  According to the Cleveland Clinic, they are thin capillaries that appear in a pattern that resembles a spider’s web.

Some physicians consider these vessels a type of varicose veins.  Others recognize two distinct types of atypical vessels.  Houston vein doctors note that in general, varicose veins tend to occur deeper under the surface of the skin.

Causes and Risk Factors

The actual cause of a spider vein is venous insufficiency.  When vein walls become weak, blood vessels swell and become visible on or near the skin’s surface.  UCLA Health indicates that the most common risk factors include:

  • A family history of vascular problems
  • Pregnancy and fluctuating female hormones
  • Extended periods of sitting or standing
  • Injury or trauma such as a broken ankle or sports injury
  • Blow-outs from neighboring varicose veins

The Cleveland Clinic adds these potential risk factors:

  • Increasing age
  • Being obese or overweight
  • Taking birth control pills
  • Wearing tight clothing
  • History of blood clots
  • Medical condition that increases abdominal pressure, such as liver disease
  • Topical steroid usage
  • Previous vein surgery
  • Ultra-violet ray exposure

Solutions from Houston Vein Doctors

Fortunately, vein doctors are able to offer patients a number of solutions for lessening the risk that these spider-like vessels will develop or worsen.  Many of them include lifestyle changes such as avoiding prolonged sitting or standing, losing weight, and wearing compression stockings.

When these conservative measures prove ineffective, patients have additional Houston vein treatment options.  According to the Mayo Clinic, there are two primary outpatient alternatives:

  • Sclerotherapy.  Using a fine needle, a physician injects a special solution that softens vein walls, causing them to scar and the vein to close.  Neighboring vessels that are healthy take over the duties of the spider vein, which usually fades within a few weeks.  Sometimes treatment requires subsequent sessions.  When vessels are small, sclerotherapy is sometimes also a varicose vein treatment.  It is considered the so-called gold standard of spider vein treatment.
  • Laser surgery.  This procedure sends strong bursts of light into a spider vein and causes it to fade and eventually disappear.  It requires no incisions or needles.

It is important for patients to realize that neither procedure will prevent new abnormal veins from forming.  For this reason, some patients return periodically for additional treatments.