Spider_Veins_inner_thigh_image.jpgWhat are Spider Veins?

Spider veins, also known as telangiectasia, are a group of dilated veins located just under the surface of the skin and most often found on the legs. Usually red or blue in color, they resemble spider webs or tree branches. While smaller than varicose veins, spider veins share some common characteristics with varicose veins in terms of causes and symptoms.

While sometimes a cosmetic issue, more often than not, there is an underlying venous disease that is of greater concern. These spider veins on legs can sometimes be painful, burn, itch or, in the worst instances, rupture and cause bleeding. For these reasons it is always best to have a Vein Specialist diagnose varicose veins or spider veins in order to rule out these larger issues. Insurance will typically cover treatment if you have painful spider veins if they affect your activities of daily living.


Spider Vein Symptoms

Spider veins are easily recognizable by their web-like or "tree branch" appearance and sometimes do not cause pain, however, the following symptoms are often present as well:

  • Aching legs
  • Painful legs
  • Burning or Itching
  • Swelling Legs
  • Rash
  • Bleeding Veins
  • Skin Ulcers


Spider Veins Close Up Image

Spider Veins Cause

Spider veins and varicose veins have similar causes. Normal veins have one-way valves that prevent blood from flowing in reverse as your body pumps blood back to the heart. When these valves cease to function properly, blood is allowed to collect, or pool, and the vein swells.



The following are found to be the most common causes of spider veins:

  • Aging - As we age, veins become weaker due to loss of elasticity.
  • Pregnancy - In order to support a growing fetus, the volume of blood in the body increases during pregnancy but blood flow from legs to pelvis decreases.
  • Heredity – Family History of Varicose or Spider Veins.
  • Standing or Sitting for long periods - Blood does not flow well without body activity.
  • Obesity - Additional weight puts additional pressure on veins in the legs.
  • History of Blood Clots
  • Use of Birth Control Pills


Spider Vein Treatment

The procedure for spider vein treatment causes minimal pain (if any) and has a fast recovery time. The method we employ at Advanced Vein Institute of Arizona is:

    • Liquid Sclerotherapy and Compression (chemical injection) - Sclerotherapy can be used to treat smaller veins. This can be a time and cost effective procedure but sometimes requires multiple sessions for complete successful removal. Occasionally spider vein treatment is performed with ultrasound guidance.

    • Cost of Sclerotherapy - Sclerotherapy cost is based on how many syringes are needed.  Typically patients do not need more than two syringes to treat a considerable amount of spider veins. In addition, if this is medically related, your insurance will cover the treatment.


schlerotherapy needle image


Next Steps

Now you know what causes spider veins and we believe that every patient's situation is unique, and every varicose and spider vein treatment should be specifically tailored for each patient. In addition, both Varicose Veins and Spider Veins should be fully diagnosed in order to rule out any larger, more complex issues like Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI) or Venous Reflux Disease. We perform an exam and duplex ultrasound to enable us to properly diagnose and recommend the best treatment for spider veins.

 Free Vein Screening Image

Frequently Asked Questions

More information about Spider Veins
[fa icon="plus-square"] Why do I get spider veins during pregnancy?
There are a few reasons for spider veins during pregnancy. The first is that the blood volume during pregnancy almost doubles to help support the growing baby, and this volume increases the pressure in the veins in the legs. Secondly, there is a hormonal shift which occurs in the body during pregnancy which causes the veins in the legs to become weak. Finally, as the baby grows, so does the pressure he or she puts on the pelvic floor, again increasing the pressure in the veins in your legs.
[fa icon="plus-square"] Is there a way to prevent spider veins?
The only prevention for spider veins is the consistent use of compression stockings, and even this is not a fool proof method. Venous insufficiency, like all other chronic diseases, progressively gets worse over time. There is not yet a proven way to prevent this gradual worsening.
[fa icon="plus-square"] Is there a natural treatment for spider veins?
Unfortunately, there is not “natural” treatment for spider veins. There are certain homeopathic treatments for the symptoms associated with venous disease, but nothing specifically for the treatment or appearance of spider veins.
[fa icon="plus-square"] Is there a cure for spider veins so they never return?
If treated appropriately, by a knowledgeable provider, intervention for spider veins and/or varicose veins should be permanent for the specific veins treated. Vein disease is a chronic process so there is always a likelihood that other veins will develop as time progresses.
[fa icon="plus-square"] Spider Veins vs Varicose Veins - What's the difference?
Spider veins and varicose veins are part of the same disease process called venous insufficiency. A spider vein is a term used for veins which appear smaller on the surface of the skin. The medical term for these veins is telangiectasia. A varicose vein is a vein that is larger in diameter but is also seen on the surface of the skin. If you picture them like branches of a tree, the varicose veins would be the larger branches and the spider veins are like the leaves. Part of the same tree, just a different size.
[fa icon="plus-square"] What causes bleeding spider veins?
Veins that lie just below the surface of the skin are very fragile, and oftentimes, if these veins are present for a long time, the skin over the top of them becomes very very thin. The thin skin in combination of the increased pressure in the veins sets one up for the risk of a ruptured varicosity. Patients either bump or scrape these areas during everyday activities. When these veins rupture, the bleeding can be very dramatic. It is important not to panic, elevate the leg and hold firm pressure until it stops. The only way to prevent rupture is to treat the underlying venous insufficiency.