For many people who suffer from spider veins, one of their biggest questions is “What causes spider veins?” Spider Veins, also known as telangiectasia, are small veins located just under the surface of the skin. Most often found on the leg, they can either be very small and hardly noticeable, or appear in a cluster that looks similar to a bruise. Some patients notice them on the outside of the thigh, inner knee, ankles or shins. They can be more prominent if you remain standing for long periods of time, with exercise or when it is hot outside. Sometimes they are purely cosmetic and unsightly, other times, these veins can be painful, burn, itch or, in the worst instances, spider veins can rupture and cause bleeding. Regardless of how spider veins look and feel, the underlying cause is the same.
For most people, vein disease is hereditary, passed from a parent or grandparent. As we age, the veins begin to appear. About 85% of the time, the underlying cause is venous disease or insufficiency in the larger superficial veins that lay just under the surface of the skin. The easiest way to picture the venous system is like branches of a tree. The veins you cannot see are the larger branches, and the spider veins are like the leaves. Sometimes these spider veins can be successfully treated cosmetically with surface laser or sclerotherapy, however, if a larger vein problem exists, these types of treatments will either fail completely, or only work for a short period of time.
Let’s take a minute to dispel some of the myths about spider veins.
Many people believe that spider veins are unsightly and therefore do not require treatment, but more often than not, there is an underlying venous disease that is a greater issue.
Incorrect! Spider veins can happen to anyone. However, 25% of adult women can or will get them, while only about 10-15% of men.
Again, this is incorrect. In fact, running, walking or exercise is good for your veins and helps increase circulation. Prolonged standing and sitting in one position does aggravate venous disease and you notice it more.
A research article at the end of 2015 published in Phlebology could not directly link obesity with vein disease, so we can’t really bust that myth. Although, a healthy lifestyle can, as in #3, help ease symptoms.
Treatments for venous disease have taken huge leaps forward. More often than not, spider veins are treated with non-invasive or minimally invasive techniques that are nearly pain-free.
It is best to get a complete vein exam and consultation from a qualified vein specialist in order to fully understand your specific circumstances.