How To Get Rid Of Spider Veins: A Vein Doctor Answers
Spider veins commonly affect the legs, face, and arms and are considered cosmetic only. However, they can be a marker of venous insufficiency and require further evaluation. A board-certified vein specialist should be your source to find the cause and achieve your ultimate goal to get rid of spider veins.
What Are Spider Veins?
Spider veins are tiny, abnormal veins that appear at the surface of the skin. They are usually red or purple and take the appearance of webs. Most commonly, spider veins are visible on the legs, although they can also affect an individual’s hands, arms and face as well.
Spider veins are different from varicose veins which are larger, protuberant veins on the skin also related to abnormal circulation in the leg veins. Varicose veins are more likely to be associated with discomfort.
Why Do We Get Spider Veins?
Spider veins are caused by weakened or damaged valves within your leg veins resulting in chronic venous insufficiency. Blood returning to the heart from your legs depends on these valves to prevent backflow against gravity. The most common reasons for venous insufficiency are:
- The most significant reason is a hereditary predisposition
- Carrying extra weight increases the pressure on your leg veins
- Prolonged standing or sitting increases the pooling of blood in your legs
- Female hormones are associated with increased risks of spider veins
- During pregnancy, the increased circulation, weight, and hormonal factors are associated with increased risks of spider and varicose veins
Are Spider Veins Serious?
In the absence of symptoms, both spider veins and varicose veins can be a benign issue. In these instances, patients are not burdened by leg pain, restless legs, swelling or skin discoloration and prefer to get rid of spider veins for cosmetic reasons.
However, in the presence of symptoms, venous insufficiency should be evaluated by a vein specialist. Because chronic venous insufficiency is progressive, untreated symptoms can increase the risks of more serious issues, such as:
- Visible, painful varicose veins (phlebitis)
- Bleeding varicose veins
- Skin inflammation (stasis dermatitis)
- Skin ulcers (stage 5 and 6 of vein disease)
- Blood clots
- Pelvic Venous Congestion
How to Get Rid of Spider Veins?
This will depend heavily on your treatment goals, the evaluation of your vein doctor, and results from duplex ultrasound to assess for venous insufficiency. Patients are often characterized into one of three categories (overlap is common as patient may present with cosmetic concerns, but are also found to have symptoms of venous insufficiency):
- Cosmetic: Patients without underlying venous insufficiency or symptoms. The primary treatment goal is the elimination of spider and reticular veins using sclerotherapy or laser removal.
- Symptomatic Venous Insufficiency: Patients will benefit from the treatment of the underlying condition. In the absence of leg ulcerations or swelling, the primary treatment is exercise, weight loss (if needed), and compression grade 2 medical stockings. If conservative measures have not controlled symptoms, then additional medical treatments are considered.
- Advanced venous insufficiency: These patients present with further signs of vein disease (CEAP 4-6) which includes leg edema, stasis dermatitis, skin discoloration, or venous leg ulcerations. Bleeding varicose veins are also a sign of advanced vein disease and compression stockings alone are likely to be insufficient for resolution of symptoms.
How to Treat Venous Insufficiency and Spider Veins?
A pleasant surprise for many patients seeking varicose vein removal is that surgery is not needed. Modern vein treatments offer patients minimally-invasive solutions resulting in no downtime, no scars, and virtually no pain. Our favorite techniques are found at all the best vein clinics and are reviewed here:
- Radiofrequency ablation: Catheter-based technology that delivers radiofrequency generated heat to the blood vessel walls. The procedure is done with only small amounts of local anesthetic and can be completed in less than 30 minutes.
- VenaSeal: This is the latest innovation in vein treatment and is equally effective as RF ablation. VenaSeal is also a catheter-based technology. However, unlike ablation, the catheter is used to inject a medical adhesive that fuses the diseased vein closed. As such, it requires no tumescence for anesthesia.
- Sclerotherapy: A medicated solution is injected in either liquid or aerated form (foam sclerotherapy). This medication acts as a sclerosant and disrupts the walls of diseased veins causing them to collapse and eventually be absorbed.
- Ambulatory Phlebectomy: This requires the most skill and patience, but still is minimally invasive. Tiny incisions are made over large, protuberant veins so that they can be directly removed. Unlike stripping, these procedures are done within the office and patients do not require any downtime. The best part, any large visible varicose veins are immediately removed leading to dramatic skin improvements.
- Clarivein: Another catheter-based technique with some special uses in certain varicose vein anatomy. In this case, mechanical force and sclerosant are used to eliminate diseased veins.
Why Vein Specialist Centers?
The Vein Specialist Centers are a complete diagnostic and vein treatment center for both simple and complex spider vein treatment. Our training and experience is what sets us apart from other vein clinics in NJ where we offer the latest technologies in spider vein treatment. Our vein doctors recognitions include annual inclusion in NJ Top Doc, Castle Connolly Top Doctor, and Inside NJ Top Docs. Dr Brotman-O’Neill also serves as President-Elect of the New Jersey Vascular Surgical Society. Dr Simon Smith is board-certified in cardiovascular medicine and vascular imaging. Dr Faisal Siddiqi serves as the medical director at Princeton Vascular Center and completed his IVY-league training at Yale and New York-Presbyterian Hospital.