In the United States, vein issues such as spider veins affect 50% to 55% of women and 40% to 45% of men. Half of all people over 50 years old suffer from varicose veins. These numbers are significant, so it’s no surprise that the medical community has dedicated a wealth of resources and time to develop a treatment for these concerns.
If you suffer from spider veins and are looking for a minimally-invasive treatment that requires no downtime, spider vein therapy is likely the solution you are seeking. There are also lifestyle changes you can implement today that can lower your risk of developing spider veins. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what causes spider veins, how you can prevent them, and the most effective treatment method for addressing spider veins that already exist.
What Exactly Are Spider Veins?
Spider veins (also referred to as thread veins) are small veins that are visible just beneath the surface of the skin. Spider veins can vary in color (typically blue, red, or purple) and appear to branch out similarly to a spider’s web, which is where their name comes from. Spider veins are different from varicose veins, which are larger swollen blood vessels.
Spider veins are typically painless, but in certain cases may lead to the following symptoms:
- Pain or soreness
What Are the Causes of Spider Veins?
Improper function of the valves within weakened or damaged veins can cause spider veins. In healthy veins, one-way valves keep blood flowing in a single direction throughout the body. However, if these valves become weak or damaged, they can sometimes allow blood to flow backward, pool, and eventually branch out into tiny spider veins.
The underlying causes of venous insufficiency vary from patient to patient. Spider veins are more commonly found in women than men but they are prevalent in both genders. Current research findings have shown the following factors may increase a patient’s likelihood of developing spider veins:
- Hereditary predisposition
- Natural aging
- Hormone levels (particularly estrogen)
- Sun exposure
- Regular extended periods of inactivity
How Do You Treat Spider Veins?
Sclerotherapy, or spider vein therapy, is a highly effective treatment for spider veins and reticular veins. It can be a stand-alone treatment, or in some instances, it can be used in conjunction with laser therapy.
What Is Spider Vein Therapy?
Spider vein therapy is a minimally-invasive outpatient procedure used to remove spider veins. Treatments last approximately 60 minutes (sometimes less depending on the size of the treatment area), and patients can return to their normal activities immediately afterward. Patients are encouraged to wear compression socks or hosiery for a few days after treatment.
Spider vein therapy is performed by injecting a nontoxic hypertonic saline solution into a patient’s spider veins. When spider veins are filled with a saline solution, blood is rerouted back through healthier veins. The spider veins transform into scar tissue and are eventually absorbed by surrounding tissues in the body, becoming invisible from the surface of the skin.
During spider vein therapy, patients may experience mild discomfort, such as a tingling or stinging sensation. However, no anesthesia is required and patients are fully awake throughout treatments. Prior to spider vein therapy treatment, your doctor will provide you with a list of medications to avoid. This typically includes blood-thinning medications, including ibuprofen.
The number of treatments needed varies from patient to patient. In some cases, multiple treatment sessions are required to achieve the desired results. For smaller spider veins, patients may begin to see results immediately, and results can continue to progress for many months after treatment. Studies have found that a single sclerotherapy treatment can reduce the number of spider veins by between 50% to 80%.
How Can You Prevent Spider Veins?
As mentioned above, certain factors increase a patient’s likelihood of developing spider veins. There are several things you can do to prevent spider veins, including:
- Wear compression socks (especially when flying in an airplane)
- Avoid long periods of inactivity – make it a point to get up and walk around every 30 minutes or so, especially if your work involves sitting at a computer
- Wear sunscreen
- Maintain a healthy weight – proper diet and exercise are important
- Elevate your feet above the level of your heart when you’re watching TV or relaxing on the couch
- Quit smoking
It is important to note that spider veins are not something all patients can avoid through lifestyle changes. For example, if spider veins run in your family, preventative measures are less likely to make a significant impact. The good news is, spider vein therapy is an effective method of treating and removing spider veins, and it doesn’t require any downtime afterward.
Are you interested in learning more about spider vein therapy in San Diego? Visit the Aspire Regenerative spider vein therapy treatment page on our website or book a consultation for a personalized evaluation. Our doctors will be able to answer any questions you may have and make individualized treatment recommendations to achieve your health and wellness goals.