What are spider veins?
‘Spider veins’ is a condition where the veins can become swollen, twisted and strikingly visible from beneath the surface of the skin. Spider veins appear red or blue and occur more often on the legs but may also be seen on the face and other body parts. The condition adopts its name from the similarity in appearance with that of a spider web.
Spider veins appear both in men and women and become visible only when there is a heavy pressure exerted on these veins. They appear most commonly in women because of hormonal imbalances caused by puberty, pregnancy and menopause. Some of the factors that cause spider veins or varicose veins include: puberty, hormonal changes, weight gain, lack of physical activity, pregnancy, birth control pills and sitting or standing for long periods of time. In some cases, these veins occur on the face and cheeks of fair-skinned individuals when they are exposed to the sun.
The actual cause for spider veins remains unknown. One of the probable causes is impaired circulation of venous blood. This occurs when the venous blood (de-oxygenated blood) that flows through these veins gets deviated. This deviation causes the vein to swell up and become visible from above the skin surface. Spider veins might also be caused due to weaknesses in the blood vessel walls close to the surface of the skin.
The treatment for spider veins can involve a simple injection procedure called sclerotherapy. This therapy is safe, simple and quick. The sclerosing/irritant solution is injected to the target site where the spider veins are present. This causes the blood vessel to swell up, with blood clotting in this area and, after a period of days, the blood vessels scarring and fading away. Alternatively, spider veins on the face can be treated with laser therapy.
Other conventional methods for the treatment of spider veins can include:
- Avoidance of sitting or standing for long hours without taking a break
- Daily physical activity that improves circulation of blood around the body.
- Maintenance of a healthy body weight – higher body mass can increase the pressure of blood on the vein walls.
- Not wearing tight clothes that can interrupt circulation.
- Minimising the wearing of high heeled shoes. Calf muscles have to exert increased amounts of energy and experience higher blood pressure when you walk in high-heeled shoes.