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WHAT ARE SPIDER VEINS?
Spider veins are tiny dilated veins located either inside the skin tissue or right under the skin tissue.
Spider veins are medically known as “telangiectases” (pronounced tuh-lan-gee-ECK-tuh-seez). They are usually found on the legs, and are painless. Most spider veins are about 1 millimeter wide (about the size of a grain of salt), however, they may sometimes be bigger.
WHO IS AT RISK?
Spider veins can affect anyone.
Spider veins occur more commonly in women. In fact, more than 40% of women over age 50 have spider veins, and older age is a risk factor for getting spider veins. The cause of spider veins is thought to be related to high blood pressure in the legs. However, there also may be a genetic component to spider veins, as there is a family history of spider veins in about 90% of patients. Pregnancy, injury, sun damage, weight, and hormones may also play a role in causing spider veins.
WHAT TREATMENT OPTIONS ARE AVAILABLE?
Spider veins can be treated with sclerotherapy.
Sclerotherapy is a low-risk and common procedure where a chemical is injected into the vein to make it collapse. Several treatments are usually needed to make the spider veins go away completely. Your doctor may want you to be tested for more severe vein disease before you get treatment for your spider veins. If you have more severe vein disease that needs treatment, those veins should be done first. Also, if your spider veins cause other symptoms like pain, this may be a sign of more serious vein disease, and your doctor may want further tests. Even when your spider veins go away with treatments, it is important to remember that no treatment for spider veins can prevent future vein disease.
You can also do things at home to promote good vein health. Staying active with activities like walking or swimming can help reduce pressure in the legs: even flexing your calf muscles and changing positions can help to do this. Losing weight also helps to take pressure off the legs. If you have to stand for long periods, you may also want to consider compression stockings, to help blood flow in your legs. Choosing low-heeled shoes instead of high heels, and avoiding tight hosiery can also help. Staying out of the heat, and avoiding hot baths, can also help reduce vein dilation in the legs. Lastly, reducing the amount of salt in your diet makes your body retain less water, which can also reduce pressure in the legs and help you to avoid spider veins.