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Spider Veins FAQ

What are Spider Veins?

Spider veins are web-like veins that appear on the surface of the skin and tend to be thin, small lines that are slightly raised or are flat just on the surface. Many patients think of spider veins as purely cosmetic; however, they are oftentimes a sign of an underlying medical condition known as venous insufficiency, which is a result of poor circulation and blood flow in the legs. 

While some spider veins are purely cosmetic, and easily treatable, it is important to get these evaluated by a vein specialist like Metro Vein Centers in order to determine if further medical treatment may be appropriate to treat the underlying condition.

What Causes Spider Veins?

Spider veins appear in different parts of the body for different reasons. When spider veins appear in the legs, it's usually because the valves found inside the veins have stopped working properly. What are these valves? The valves are a one-way mechanism in the veins that prevent blood from flowing backward away from the heart. After the blood has flowed toward the heart, the valve closes so that the blood cannot go back down the passage.

When those valves get damaged or become weak, the blood can have difficulty flowing in the right direction. From there, it can pool inside the vein. After a while, a buildup of blood in the vein can start spreading out, showing up as spider veins. 

While some spider veins are only cosmetic, they can be a sign of an underlying medical condition called venous insufficiency that would require medical treatment to resolve fully. Even if there are no symptoms present, venous insufficiency is a progressive disease and should be evaluated by a board-certified vein specialist to determine the appropriate treatments. 

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What are the Treatment Options for Spider Veins?

The primary method for treating spider veins is called Micro Foam Sclerotherapy. This treatment is ideal for spider veins and smaller varicose veins. Micro Foam Sclerotherapy takes about less than one hour to perform per session, and no anesthesia is required. A vein doctor injects a medicated solution into your affected leg veins. In response, they immediately close down and start to be reabsorbed in the body. Sometimes more than one treatment is required to achieve the desired cosmetic results. Larger veins can also be treated using ultrasound-guided injection with microform solutions.

Additionally, Metro Vein Centers offers the Excel V+ Laser in selection locations. This state-of-the-art laser works delivers pulses of light energy that penetrates through the skin. The laser energy causes the vein to close and the closed vein is then reabsorbed by your body over time. Blood flow will then be redirected to veins deeper below your skin’s surface, where it should be, causing the veins on the surface to disappear.

The right treatment option depends on the type, size and color of the spider veins being treated. Sclerotherapy injections are generally a good option for larger spider veins that cover a large surface area or for patients with darker skin, while laser treatment may be better for smaller veins. During your consultation, our vein doctors can determine if injections or laser therapy will be most effective.

What is the Difference Between Spider Veins and Varicose Veins?

While spider veins and varicose veins are both forms of a medical condition known as venous insufficiency, these are slightly different conditions. The two issues both show up in the legs because of having damaged or weakened valves in the veins, but they exhibit different symptoms.

Spider veins tend to be thin, small lines that are slightly raised or are flat against the skin. They are most commonly purple, red, or blue and don't usually cause any sort of pain or discomfort to the patient. In contrast, varicose veins are much deeper and larger. They have a twisted or lumpy appearance and are most commonly red or flesh colored.

Varicose veins can cause additional discomfort such as pain, itching, swelling in the ankles or legs, bleeding, or a heavy or achy feeling in the legs. They tend to increase a person's risk of blood clots and circulation problems, too. 

Does Spider Vein Treatment Have Side Effects?

Spider vein treatment is done in our office and takes less than one hour. There are generally limited side effects and patients can return to work and normal activities the same day.  While some patients describe some brief, minor discomfort, temporary tenderness or bruising, sclerotherapy recovery is extremely quick, FDA-approved and serious side effects are extremely rare..

Is Spider Vein Treatment Covered By Insurance?

Sclerotherapy is only sometimes covered by insurance. This will depend on the doctor’s diagnosis after a thorough clinical evaluation and ultrasound to determine the underlying cause of spider veins. Oftentimes there is medical need for treatment and thus it would be covered by insurance. 

What are the Risk Factors for Spider Veins?

There are several different factors that can put a person at a greater risk of developing spider veins. While these are not a surefire cause of spider veins, they make patients more susceptible to getting them. A few factors that increase the likelihood of developing spider veins include: 

  • Pregnancy: Pregnant women sometimes get spider veins during pregnancy due to increased blood flow through the body and the pressure that the fetus's weight places on leg veins. In some cases, the spider veins will disappear after the birth, but in other cases, they are permanent. 
  • Genetics: As much as 90% of people with spider veins have a family member who has spider veins.
  • Sex: Women are more commonly affected by spider veins than men are
  • Age: Over time, valves in veins weaken, and calf muscles lose some of their strength. This can cause a person to develop spider veins, particularly in the legs, as they age.
  • Weight: People who are heavier may find that the additional weight places pressure on the veins in the legs, causing spider veins to appear.
  • Hormones: Hormonal treatments for menopause or for birth control can lead to spider veins because estrogen tends to weaken vein valves.
  • Extended Sitting or Standing: When a person remains in the same position for long periods of time, veins have to work harder to pump blood up to the heart. Over time, this can lead to spider vein formation.
  • Previous Blood Clots or Vein Damage: Veins that have already been damaged can stop them from working correctly going forward. 
  • Sun damage: The UV rays from the sun can damage the skin and cause blood vessels to burst and to form spider veins on the face. 

The Next Steps to Spider Vein Free Legs is Treatment from a Professional Vein Doctor

The next step is to speak with a vein specialist who can evaluate your legs and recommend the appropriate treatment options for your unique needs. 

Metro Vein Centers is a national leader in the treatment of varicose and spider veins with vein treatment clinics in New York, New Jersey, and Michigan.  

Call us today. We are excited to help you take the first step towards healthy legs.