The red, purple and blue lines that can be seen through the skin are called spider veins. These are simply blood vessels that are dilated and have now twisted or turned and sometimes appear in short fine lines or clusters or spider web shapes.
They mostly appear on either the legs or face or else on the ankles and they sometimes appear on other parts of the body as well and are painful with aching and cramping reported as well by patients. Sometimes patients can also feel a burn, tingle or throbbing pain as well.
There are preventive measures that can prevent spider veins, but you must understand how spider veins develop first in order for you to understand the preventive measures. Spider veins are genetic and tend to run in the family, but still women are more prone to having spider veins and are more prone to developing spider veins when they are going through pregnancy, puberty or are using birth control pills. Even women undergoing hormone replacement therapy are prone to developing spider veins.
Excessive sun exposure may also cause spider veins to develop in individuals with fair skin. Injuries and even clothing that is too tight can cause this problem as well. In extreme cases, spider veins can culminate into ulcers, swelling or rarely into thrombophlebitis - a condition in which an inflamed and painful blood clot may form.
Other causes include:
Old Age - When a person grows older, their veins grow weak and do not work as well.
Medical History - The condition may be congenital, as a person may be born with weak veins, or it can be hereditary as the person may have a genetic disposition towards weak veins. Half of the time spider veins are genetically inherited.
Obesity - Obesity can put extra pressure on your veins leading to spider veins.
Lack of Movement - When we sit for too long and do not move, the circulation in our body reduces, causing our heart to work harder to pump blood to the veins and ask for more force from the vein to pump the blood back into your heart. This situation can lead to spider veins and the condition can actually bend legs that have this condition out of shape.
The reason spider veins appear in legs more often than any other body part is that the veins of human legs carry the weight of the human body. They need to pump blood against gravity into the heart and this pressure makes the veins swell and appear red or blue.
A person should visit the doctors office regarding spider veins only if:
The vein is warm and tender to touch and it has become swollen and red.
A person finds sores and rashes on the skin around the ankles or if the skin around the calf and ankle is thick and changes color.
A spider vein bleeds or if leg problems are stopping your daily activities or causing any other kind of distress.
They will be diagnosed by a physical exam in which a doctor will look at your legs with you standing or dangling your feet. He will also ask about your symptoms including pain. He will probably recommend some tests to ensure that there are no other problems. He may suggest an ultrasound to observe the structure, blood flow and presence of blood clots in the vein. In some scenarios, he will prescribe a venogram for a detailed look at those veins.
Spider Vein Treatment Options
Spider veins are controlled in various ways, from surgery to injections to changes in lifestyle. Lifestyle changes include weight loss, walking and maintaining good skin hygiene. They should be followed by wearing comfortable hosiery to reduce pain.
The surgical and dermatological solutions to this problem include radiofrequency occlusion, surgery, laser treatment and sclerotherapy. Their descriptions are as follows:
- Plastic surgery is always the last resort as it is very invasive.
- Radio frequency is a procedure in which a small catheter is inserted into veins and sends excessive energy into them thus collapsing and sealing them shut.
- Endovenous laser treatment requires a small laser fiber to be inserted into veins that collapses veins with light pulses. The light is absorbed in the hemoglobin and eventually into the blood stream.
- Other laser treatments collapse veins by using heat energy to damage and destroy them. These treatments do not require any incision, which makes them attractive to patients. But such treatments also have a history of causing discoloration, staining or blistering along with discomfort.
- Sclerotherapy involves inserting a solution into the vein with a fine needle. Solution causes irritation in the blood vessels, swelling them and making them stick together. This causes formation of a blood clot that eventually becomes scar tissue in three to six weeks and fades away. Sclerotherapy is a treatment that needs to be performed multiple times, but it is an outpatient ordeal that is simple and inexpensive.
Spider veins can be hard to get rid of and if they appear early in age then they may seem too unfair. But still, the procedure for their cure is simple, readily available and effective. Choose the right one for yourself and move forward with confidence.
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