The body is supported by a vast network of veins that are essential to good health. Without veins, we wouldn’t be able to function in our day-to-day lives. Unfortunately, over time, problems can arise that leave us with visible reminders that something under the surface isn’t right.
It can happen to anyone: small, web-like clusters of blue, red or purple veins that form on the legs, feet, arms or face. These unsightly lines are known as telangiectasias but are commonly referred to as spider veins. Some cases of spider veins are small, while others are broad and very noticeable. Women are affected more often than men. Although spider veins are typically an aesthetic nuisance, in some cases they may be indicative of an underlying medical issue that needs to be treated.
At The Vein Center of Florida & South Baldwin, a practice specializing in nonsurgical vein treatments, your spider veins can be assessed and treated, improving your self-confidence and alleviating the worry of any future consequences they may cause. Receiving expert care from a trained phlebologist is crucial for anyone suffering from spider veins. By doing so, you can ensure optimal results and gain critical knowledge for maintaining your vein health. Dr. James Jimenez, an expert in vein therapies and a pioneer in minimally invasive treatments, can help residents of the Emerald Coast resolve spider vein issues. Please contact us today at 850-837-4043 to schedule a consultation with Dr. J.
How Do Spider Veins Form?
There are two main types of blood vessels in the circulatory system: arteries and veins. Arteries provide a constant flow of nutrient-rich blood to the body, while veins transport blood back to the heart, where it then recirculates. Gallons of blood move throughout the body daily, but a lot of energy is needed for this to happen. A greater output of energy is required when blood moves from the lower half of the body to the top, as it must resist the downward pull of gravity. Each vein contains valves that open and close to help blood move against gravity without slipping backward.
Over time, due to various factors, these valves can become weakened or damaged. Malfunctioning valves eventually lead to backflow, which in turn may cause blood to pool in the lower extremities. This pooling of blood puts pressure on the vein walls, which causes them to swell and expand toward the surface of the skin, resulting in varicose and spider veins.
Although doctors are unsure about the precise cause of spider veins, some factors are known to contribute to their development. These factors include:
- Age – causes weakened blood vessels and vein valves
- Being sedentary – lack of movement results in less blood circulation
- Alcoholism or tobacco use – these both may affect blood circulation
- Sex – women are at higher risk for spider vein development because of hormonal changes
- Obesity – puts excessive pressure on veins
- Pregnancy – also puts pressure on veins
- Skin conditions – inflammatory conditions such as rosacea can spur the development of spider veins
Spider veins can also develop in healthy and active people with no obvious risk factors. Everyone is encouraged to maintain a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, a nutritious diet, and daily sun protection to help maintain proper venous system function.
Health Issues That May Be Related to Spider Veins
Spider veins rarely cause symptoms and usually do not require treatment for medical reasons. However, their unsightly appearance leads many to seek treatment because they feel self-conscious about the way they look. Spider veins that appear on the face and neck can be difficult to conceal, even with cosmetics. Spider veins on the legs can be a constant source of worry about how your skin looks in shorts, skirts or swimsuits. You may feel limited to wearing clothing that covers your legs, even at the beach or in the sweltering heat of summer.
Though most spider veins are not harmful, they can be a sign of other underlying circulatory problems. Some patients experience leg symptoms associated with venous insufficiency — such as leg heaviness, aching and fatigue — but only exhibit spider veins on the surface of their skin. In this case, professional evaluation should be sought to ensure venous flow is normal and prevent further complications from occurring. If an ultrasound assessment finds evidence of venous reflux, in office treatment options are available.
In rare instances, spider veins can be indicative of hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT), an inherited disorder that involves abnormalities in the blood vessels. People with HHT often have recurrent nosebleeds and some develop internal bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract. Severe bleeding may necessitate iron supplementation and transfusions.
Can I Treat Spider Veins at Home?
Despite what many lifestyle magazines and health blogs claim, spider veins cannot be treated at home. Commonly touted herbal remedies like witch hazel and ginkgo biloba cannot reverse damage to vein walls or valves. There are no formalized studies that support the use of herbal remedies in treating spider veins. In fact, taking an at-home remedy may have harmful consequences if it interacts poorly with any over-the-counter or prescribed medications you use or any other supplements you take.
Another supposed remedy that some claim relieves venous issues is the application of apple cider vinegar to the skin where spider veins are noticeable. This is another myth that is unsupported by any medical research. The best solution is to visit with a trained phlebologist. By consulting an experienced professional, you can feel confident that you will receive safe and effective treatment and receive useful tips to help prevent spider veins from developing again. Dr. Jimenez is one of the preeminent experts on vein care and is certified to provide a variety of vein treatments.
Spider Vein Treatments Offered at The Vein Center of Florida & South Baldwin
At The Vein Center of Florida & South Baldwin, we offer cosmetic sclerotherapy for patients desiring spider vein removal. Cosmetic sclerotherapy is a popular vein removal treatment for men and women of any skin tone and type. During an initial consultation, Dr. J will assess your veins, your medical history and current health to determine if you’re a suitable candidate for this procedure.
Cosmetic sclerotherapy is safe, quick and effective. During treatment, a specialized formulation of sclerosing solution is injected into the spider veins. When this solution enters the spider veins, it liquifies and displaces the pooled blood that is causing the vessels to protrude. The solution then closes off and collapses the veins, which eventually absorb back into the body. Any blood that was circulating through the treated veins is naturally rerouted to other, healthier veins.
Cosmetic sclerotherapy is a consistently successful procedure. It has been used since the 1930s and is the preferred method for nonsurgical spider vein removal. The procedure can not only successfully treat one spider vein, but it can treat multiple instances from just one starting point. Sclerotherapy offers many advantages over other procedures, including:
- Convenient in-office treatments
- Minimally-invasive procedure
- Comfortable without anesthesia
- No downtime
A sclerotherapy procedure typically takes no more than 30 minutes and begins working instantly. Results will continue to improve for several months post-procedure, as the destroyed veins are gradually absorbed by the body and blood recirculates. Dr. Jimenez personally performs all sclerotherapy injections at The Vein Center of Florida.
What Are the Differences Between Spider Veins and Varicose Veins?
Although spider veins and varicose veins are both the result of vein valve and wall damage, they differ in their appearance, symptoms and associated health concerns. A common misconception is that spider veins will develop into varicose veins. This is not necessarily the case. Spider veins form in venules, which are tiny blood vessels, while varicose veins tend to form in larger veins. Spider veins develop in veins that are usually less than one millimeter, while varicose veins form in veins that are four to five millimeters. Varicose veins are also typically located in deeper layers of the skin, while spider veins are more superficial.
Varicose veins have a significant cosmetic impact. They are often described as “rope-like,” “twisted” and “bulging.” They usually develop in the legs and protrude obviously through the skin. Many patients with varicose veins complain of swelling and pain, described as cramping or aching in their legs. Other common symptoms include restlessness, throbbing, burning, tingling, tiredness or heaviness in the legs. Over time, varicose veins can worsen and cause skin discoloration, hardening of the skin or sores that do not heal (ulcers). One of the most serious condition associated with varicose veins is deep vein thrombosis, or DVT.
Spider veins can feed into a larger varicose vein, resulting in an appearance defined by a singular large, bulging vein surrounded by tiny web-like spider veins. For some patients with both spider veins and varicose veins, treating the varicose veins may also resolve the spider veins. Meeting with a specialist can help you address two issues in one treatment.
How Can I Prevent Spider Veins?
Treating your spider veins with sclerotherapy is an excellent way to make you feel more comfortable in your skin. Once they’re treated, they won’t come back — but that doesn’t mean you can’t develop new ones in the future. By mitigating some of the risk factors discussed above, you may be able to lower your chances of needing spider vein treatment again. Try making the following lifestyle adjustments:
- Regularly use sunscreen, even during the winter, and avoid prolonged sun exposure. Pay special attention to your face. The sun’s ultraviolet rays can break down collagen in the skin, causing damage to not only the skin but also the underlying blood vessels.
- Do not use tobacco and limit your exposure to tobacco smoke.
- Get regular exercise. Working your legs keeps them healthy, improves blood circulation and promotes overall well-being.
- Wear compression stockings. These medical garments put constant pressure on your veins, which increases blood flow from your legs.
- Maintain a healthy, stable weight. Excess weight makes it difficult for veins to move blood efficiently to the heart.
- Do not sit or stand for prolonged periods. Shift your position and take breaks to walk or stretch. This keeps your muscles moving and encourages proper blood flow.
- Avoid overly tight clothing. Clothing that is too tight can restrict circulation.
- Put your feet up while at rest. This helps the blood in your legs flow back to your heart.
- Avoid crossing your legs too much. This position may put pressure on the vein valves and walls, causing damage gradually over time.
After your spider vein removal treatment, Dr. J. will give you advice and recommendations on how to prevent spider veins from returning.
Contact The Vein Center of Florida & South Baldwin for Spider Vein Treatment With Dr. Jimenez
Spider veins are a cosmetic concern that can develop on almost any part of the body. When they arise, they can make us feel self-conscious around friends and family, and prevent us from wearing clothing that we want to. There’s no need to settle with their unsightly appearance when you can have them successfully treated at The Vein Center of Florida & South Baldwin.
As a pioneer in minimally invasive vein removal treatments, Dr. Jimenez is well-equipped to address any of your vein concerns. He can help you select the most appropriate treatment for your spider veins so that you can live without embarrassment or worry again. Dr. J’s the first and most trusted vein care expert in the Florida Panhandle area. For two decades, he has delivered the highest level of expertise and results, enabling his patients to live a higher quality of life.
To take the next step, call The Vein Center of Florida today at 850-837-4043 or visit our contact page to schedule a free vein screening. We have offices located in Pensacola and Destin, Florida, and Foley, Alabama, to conveniently serve you.