Spider Veins

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What Are Spider Veins?

Spider veins are abnormal veins that form unwanted red, purple, or blue thread-like patterns just under the skin.

Spider Veins...

are formed when a blood vessel wall is weak and venous pressure causes the blood vessel to dilate.  The blood flow in these veins is abnormal because of a failure of valves to pump blood in the right direction and leads to pooling of blood in some areas-the areas we see as spider veins just under the skin.

Even the slightest increase in venous pressure can cause the veins nearest to the surface of the skin to dilate.  These superficial veins are the ones that turn into spider veins.  Veins deeper in the body have more muscular support and thus don't dilate as easily under increased pressures.

The medical profession refers to spider veins as telangiestasia or sunburst varicosities.  Spider veins can look like tree branches from a single trunk, spider webs (hence the name spider veins), or fine separated lines.

It is estimated that one-third of women will have some form of spider veins as they advance in age.  Although women constitute the majority of spider vein sufferers, men are also affected by these annoying little veins.  Male leg hair also covers many of their spider veins so they don't tend to care as much about preventing or removing spider veins.

Spider veins are often located on the thighs, calves, and ankles, but they can also occur on the face in some instances.  They are considered a cosmetic issue in the medical field and are usually treated as such.  This means your insurance will most likely not cover any treatment of your spider veins.

Since spider veins are superficial veins, they usually cause no pain or discomfort.  In some cases, aching or itching occurs in the affected area.  These types of symptoms indicate a need for you to talk with your doctor about the possibility of a bigger problem than just spider veins.

Varicose veins are different from spider veins in that they are larger, darker, and usually are swollen and raised above the skin.  They tend to be at least a quarter of an inch in diameter and are more likely than spider veins to cause pain and discomfort.  Varicose veins are most commonly found on the inner legs and on the calves.  Some signs of varicose veins include, but are not limited to the following.

  • Aching pain in the affected area.
  • Itching or rash in the leg.
  • Swelling of the leg.
  • Tiredness of the leg.
  • Heavy feeling in the leg.

You need to see your doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.

Disclaimer: This page is not meant to be a substitute for any professional advice, guidance, or counseling.  I am not a doctor.  This page is not intended in any way to serve or take the place of medical advice from a physician.