Some people think that spider veins are simply an unfortunate part of aging; however, anyone can suffer from this condition. Some spider veins and related varicose veins can cause pain and discomfort in the legs and diminish a patient’s quality of life. Treatments for spider veins

Approximately 30 – 60% of adults have spider veins, and many patients complain that they feel self-conscious about them, and they impact their lives in a negative way. However, there are a number of effective options for treating them. Schedule an appointment to talk to the experienced podiatrists at Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists. We will discuss your diagnosis and give you a better understanding of your spider vein treatment options—so you can enjoy healthier feet, ankles, and legs for life.

Understanding Spider Veins

Spider veins, medically known as telangiectasias or venulectasias, are small, dilated blood vessels that appear close to the surface of the skin. They are called spider veins due to their connected, branch-like appearance that can resemble a spider’s web or spider legs. The term ‘spider veins’ is actually a misnomer because they aren’t veins at all. They are actually damaged small blood vessels, including capillaries, venules, and arterioles. They usually appear red, blue, or purple in color and are most commonly found on the legs, ankles, feet, and face.

Risk Factors for Developing Spider Veins

Spider veins affect twice as many women as men. They also affect a large population of seniors, especially those over the age of 80. Additionally, you may be more likely to develop spider veins if:

  • You have a genetic predisposition for them
  • You stand or sit for prolonged periods without moving around
  • You cross your legs for prolonged periods
  • You are overweight
  • You have blood clotting issues
  • You are pregnant or have been pregnant
  • You take hormone therapy
  • You have a connective tissue disorder
  • You have sustained an injury or leg trauma in the past
  • You have chronic constipation
  • You smoke
  • You have sun damage or spend a lot of time in the sun

The Symptoms of Spider Veins

For most people, spider veins aren’t painful. But for others, there can be adverse effects, including the following:

  • Pain and discomfort
  • Tightness or heaviness in the legs
  • Burning or itching
  • Cramping
  • Tenderness
  • Swelling

The Difference Between Spider Veins and Varicose Veins

Spider veins and varicose veins are both vascular conditions that appear prominently in the legs and look very similar in appearance. However, varicose veins are larger, swollen veins that often appear raised, twisted, bulging, and more obvious. Unlike spider veins, varicose veins actually involve veins, not blood vessels, and extend deeper into the leg.

Because they are bigger and more extensive, varicose veins are more likely to cause pain and discomfort. But both conditions can cause an unpleasant appearance as well as physical symptoms.

Spider Veins and Chronic Venous Insufficiency

Spider veins are usually not considered dangerous or deadly. However, they can be an early sign of chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), a very serious condition where the valves in the blood vessels in your legs become damaged, causing blood to pool there instead of circulating. This can cause swelling, inflammation, ulcers, cellulitis, and infections. CVI is progressive, and catching it early is vital to its successful treatment.

If you have spider veins, seeing your doctor or podiatrist to check for signs and symptoms of CVI is key to maintaining healthy legs and feet.

Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Developing Spider Veins or Help Prevent Them

While it’s not possible to completely prevent spider veins from developing, especially if you’re genetically predisposed to them, there are ways you can reduce the pressure that causes them to develop, including the following:

  • Maintain a weight that’s healthy for you, so you limit pressure on your blood vessel walls
  • Avoid crossing your legs when sitting
  • Take breaks and take a walk if you have a desk job or must stand for long periods of time
  • Wear compression socks to improve circulation
  • Limit how often you use saunas and hot tubs
  • Increase your amount of exercise to improve vein and leg health
  • Elevate your legs when you’re at rest  
  • Avoid wearing tight clothes and tight shoes

While these changes can improve the health of your body, heart, legs, vessels, and veins, it might not be enough to prevent spider veins and varicose veins. In some cases, the condition may run in your family. People with extensive spider veins or spider veins that are affecting their life may want to talk to their podiatrist for treatment.

Spider Vein Treatment Options

Like the treatment of many different conditions, treatments for spider veins range from completely non-invasion lifestyle changes and topical remedies to minimally invasive procedures. Different care options must be assessed for individual patients with individual goals. Here are some of the most common and effective treatments for spider veins:

Topical creams

Some over-the-counter and prescription creams, containing active ingredients like vitamin K or retinoids, can help improve the appearance of spider veins.

Laser Therapy

There are several types of laser therapy that can be utilized to minimize spider veins. These non-invasive treatments use focused light energy to target and break down the pigments in the spider veins, causing them to fade over time. Two common types of laser therapy include intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy and endovenous laser treatment (EVLT).


For many patients with spider veins, the preferred treatment is sclerotherapy. This treatment involves injecting a solution directly into the spider veins which irritates the lining of the blood vessels, causing them to collapse and eventually fade from view. This is an outpatient procedure that uses a fine needle and does not require anesthesia.

Keep Your Legs Healthy and Strong

If you are bothered by spider veins, talking to a podiatrist can help you better understand your options for treatment and possible prevention. Call us to schedule an appointment to get a diagnosis and care plan today.

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