What are Spider Veins?

Thigh and knee with light spider veins


Spider veins (also called telangiectasias) are thin, red, blue, or purple veins visible just beneath the skin's surface. They form when vein’s close to the skin's surface weaken and dilate. This can be caused by numerous things including issues that disrupt blood flow through veins. The valves in the veins malfunction, allowing blood to leak into the lower part of the vein instead of flowing back to the heart. In this article, we will address frequently asked questions about spider veins, including what causes them, whether they hurt, if they go away on their own, and how to treat them. We will also cover how to prevent spider veins.

What Causes Spider Veins?

Several factors and lifestyle choices can increase the risk of developing spider veins, including: 

  • Genetics or family history
  • Exposure to ultraviolet light
  • Hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptives
  • History of blood clots
  • Previous vein procedures
  • Illnesses that increase abdominal pressure
  • Obesity
  • Occupations that require a lot of standing

Women are more likely than men to develop spider veins. Aging also increases the likelihood of developing the condition.

back of leg and thigh with spider veins

Are Spider Veins Painful?

Patient befor image of varicose veins

Spider veins can sometimes be painful, burn or itch. They can worsen over time and rarely go away independently. Treatment may be cosmetic or medically necessary depending on symptoms. Occasionally, spider veins can hemorrhage or bleed which can be alarming but not typically life-threatening. Spider veins can also signal the presence of other vein conditions such as venous insufficiency. If this is present, you may be more likely to develop prominent varicose veins, rashes and ulcers. Spider veins are common in people struggling with weight gain and obesity, which often lead to their own set of health issues. Other vein-related complications include blood clots, which can be life-threatening.

Are Spider Veins Different from Varicose Veins?

Although vein complications can cause spider veins and varicose veins, they are not the same condition. Varicose veins are larger, protrusive, bulging, and swollen, while spider veins are more superficial, like light blue, purple or red tracings under the skin. Varicose

What Treatments Can Help My Spider Veins?

Treatments for spider veins may include behavior changes or self-care, such as resting and elevating the legs after a long day or wearing compression. Compression socks, stockings, or wraps are often recommended as conservative treatments to help prevent additional spider veins from forming and relieve disruptive symptoms of spider veins.

In addition to self-care, there are also clinical treatments such as sclerotherapy. Sclerotherapy is a common treatment for eliminating spider veins. Sclerotherapy involves injecting a chemical solution into the spider vein, causing it to collapse, and fade away with time. At times, several treatments are needed to attain the desired result.

Tow medical professionals administering treatment for varicose or spider veins

Can I Prevent Spider Veins?

Ways to prevent spider veins include: <

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Avoiding prolonged standing or sitting
  • Exercising regularly
  • Wearing compression socks/stockings 

While spider veins are usually not a significant health concern, they can be unsightly and uncomfortable. Consult with your doctor to determine the best treatment for your condition.

At Ellison Vein Institute, we can help treat your spider or varicose veins. Contact us today to find out how we can help.


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