The rather unusual medical term telangiectasis seems odd to many people, but most would recognize the term spider veins. These small clusters of red, purple or blue show up in areas like the ankle, behind the knee or even on the face. Although not harmful, spider veins may not be attractive, especially on the face. Here’s some information about spider veins from Metro Vein Centers.

Spider Veins: Arteries vs. Veins

Blood vessels in the body are either arteries or veins. Beginning with large arteries near the heart, blood travels out to the body cells through smaller and smaller blood vessels, taking oxygen and nutrients to the body cells. The tiniest of these, called capillaries, indicate the point at which oxygen is delivered directly to the cells. These capillaries then take blood back through veins into the heart. Capillaries and other small veins are the blood vessels that become spider veins.

Spider Veins: Veins and Valves

The force of each heartbeat is what moves blood through arteries. However, veins must work against gravity. Muscle contractions in the legs help push blood back up to the heart. Veins also have tiny flaps of tissue called valves, that close between heartbeats to prevent blood from flowing backward. Aging, genetics and occupations that involve a lot of standing can cause the valves to become weak or fail entirely. When they do, blood pools in the veins, and they may become distended and twisted. Occasionally, ulcers may result in the area of these distended veins.

Spider Veins vs. Varicose Veins

There is really no difference between spider veins and varicose veins except for size. Most people have both, and spider veins can be an indication of larger varicose veins. Spider veins are more visible, however, as they usually form just under the skin. Spider veins don’t usually cause any symptoms, although occasionally, patients report mild itching or burning in the area. They may look like a tiny starburst or – if slightly larger – a network of visible, darker veins.

Are Spider Veins a Problem?

Spider veins themselves are primarily a cosmetic issue. Since they go hand-in-hand with varicose veins Doctors may recommend that both be treated. Spider veins can be easily hidden with stocking, long pants or leg makeup when they occur on the legs. However, those strategies may not work very well in a hot summer, and spider veins on the face can be more difficult to hide without using fairly thick makeup. Treatment is painless and relatively simple, and can be performed as an office procedure. Downtime after the procedure is usually minimal.

If you are a Houston resident who has spider veins and are concerned about them or want to explore treatment options, please contact us at Metro Vein Centers. We offer treatments like sclerotherapy and laser therapy. Our specialists can assess your situation and make recommendations for care. Please be aware that spider vein treatment is usually considered a cosmetic procedure (and thus optional) by most insurance companies.