Hematuria is defined as the clinical condition where excess…Read More
Last Updated January 10th, 2022
What are spider veins?
Spider veins (telangiectasia) are thin widened blood vessels that appear superficially on the legs, fingers, eyes, and parts of the face (cheeks, nose, lips). Spider veins appear clustered like the thin branches of the spider web.
These dilated veins also known as thread veins are sometimes red, purple, and blue in color. Most people treat spider veins for cosmetic reasons. Usually they are normally not painful.
Spider veins appear more common in women than men. They are usually benign in nature and do not cause much harm or discomfort. But, if the symptoms are severe, they may need immediate treatment.
Spider veins are often confused with varicose veins but they are two different medical conditions.
Symptoms of spider veins
Spider veins are generally painless. Some people may experience mild discomfort and pain. The symptoms gradually progress with time. Here are certain symptoms that may indicate spider veins:
- Aching pain in the legs
- Heaviness in the legs
- Cramping or swelling in the lower part of the legs
- Skin discoloration in the lower legs
- Threadlike patterns on the skin of the legs or face
- Itching sensation
- The appearance of red, blue, or purple veins closer to the skin
Spider veins vs varicose veins
Often people confuse spider veins with varicose veins because the symptoms are similar. Both conditions result in weakness or damage of the blood vessels in the legs.
Spider veins are thin threadlike veins that are superficial that may appear slightly raised or flat on the skin. They may be blue, purple, or red in colour. Varicose veins are larger in size and much deeper on the skin. They may be twisted or lumped and may appear as blue or dark purple in color.
The main difference between spider veins and varicose veins is that the former is often painless and does not cause much discomfort. Varicose veins are more severe and may cause intense pain and swelling of the legs. In some cases, the veins may even bleed. Varicose veins mostly affect the legs.
Spider veins are generally harmless but can cause mild pain and discomfort. Many people treat spider veins due to the discomfort and also wish to remove them due to cosmetic reasons.
There are certain treatment options that are simple and can be done at home.
Compression stockings are available at medical stores. They stimulate the blood flow in the legs and enhance blood stimulation. They help to reduce swelling, pain, and blood clots in the legs.
Compression stockings or socks can be of different types such as:
- Gradient compression stockings – These stockings are available online or at specialized pharmacies. They put light pressure on the calves, ankles, and feet.
- Support pantyhose – They can also be purchased online or in stores. They are lightweight and provide therapeutic support to the legs. They help in reducing swelling on the legs, ankles, and feet.
- Prescription compression stockings – They are available only on prescription. These stockings can be of various sizes even in footless varieties. However, they are not the best options for patients suffering from heart problems.
Maintaining a healthy diet and body weight
Being overweight is one of the major reasons for spider veins. Maintaining a healthy diet rich in vegetables, fruits, lean meat, and whole grains can regulate weight. A fiber-rich diet can reduce constipation. Avoid processed foods. Healthy body weight can reduce pressure on the blood vessels.
Light regular exercise under the supervision of an instructor can help maintain ideal body weight and improve blood circulation. Activities like jogging, cycling, walking, etc., can improve body movements and decrease weight.
Sitting in the same position in the wrong posture can increase the chances of getting spider veins. People who work outdoors or do clerical jobs have to stand or sit for long hours. Brisk walks or changes in the postures can help improve spider veins.
Extracts from horse chestnut seeds have anti-inflammatory properties. They improve blood flow of the vessels, reduce swelling, discoloration, trauma, and discomfort of the veins.
Witch hazel is a herbal remedy for treating spider veins. You can take a cotton ball and dab some witch hazel extract and rub it gently over your spider veins for relief. Repeat the process several times a day for comfort.
The doctor may prescribe procedures like sclerotherapy, laser therapy, or other surgical treatments for treating spider veins. These treatments are normally done when symptoms are much severe and do not resolve through home remedies.
This is one of the most popular treatment options for spider veins. Here, the doctor injects a chemical into the spider vein. The vein reacts to the solution and swells and obstructs the blood supply. After some time, the vein shuts and turns into scar tissue, and fades away. Repeat the treatment every four to six weeks for best results. During this time, doctors also advise wearing gradient compression stockings for inflammation.
Ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy is used to treat veins that are not superficial and are buried deep down under the skin. The doctor uses ultrasound imaging to view the deep-embedded veins to inject the chemical solution.
Side effects of sclerotherapy include:
- Stinging sensation
- Redness in the area
- Blood lumps
Laser treatment uses a very strong beam of light to fade the affected veins. The procedure may take 15 to 20 minutes and must be repeated two or three times to treat the spider veins. One of the limitations of this treatment is that this procedure cannot be used to treat different skin types and colors.
Side effects of laser treatments include:
In this technique, the doctor makes a small incision on the affected area. He/she then uses an instrument known as the PIN stripper to pull out the spider vein. The procedure is done in the doctor’s clinic or hospital under general or local anesthesia.
This is a minimally invasive technique where the doctor uses radiofrequency or laser energy to produce heat and damage the spider vein. A small incision is made on the affected area through which the doctor inserts a thin tube called a catheter. Heat is used to seal and shut the vein and turn it into scar tissue. The doctor uses a sedative or local anesthesia. Doctor tell patients to wear compression stockings for at least one-week post-surgery.
Local anesthesia is used to numb the area. A small slit incision is made and the spider veins are removed using a hook. This procedure is not recommended for patients who are unable to walk properly or wear compression stockings.
- Temporary numbness
Surgical intervention is only needed when a patient is not responsive to other treatments. Doctors can use general or local anesthesia. Ligation and stripping are used to tie the vein and remove the affected area. This is usually done to treat large spider veins. The treatment is not recommended for spider veins that are small in size.
When should you go for spider vein treatment?
Spider veins appear because the valves in the vein stop working.
The function of the valves is to allow the proper flow of blood in the veins and to stop blood from flowing backward.
When the valves are weak, they stop functioning. In that case, the blood in the veins struggles to flow properly in the right direction. The accumulated blood may create a bulge in the vein causing spider veins.
The increased pressure of blood may cause the veins to burst. The appearance of spider veins on the face is often a result of broken blood vessels.
- Growing age – Old age is a common factor for spider veins. As we age, the valves in the veins become weak and may cause spider veins.
- Being women – Research studies show that females are more prone to the disease.
- Excessive sun exposure – Long-term exposure to the sun on the face may cause spider veins.
- Skin diseases – Skin problems like rosacea can enlarge the venules and cause red bumps, flareups, and spider veins on the face. SLE or systemic lupus erythematosus is an autoimmune disorder that can cause skin sensitivity to sunlight exposure and cause spider veins.
- Hormonal changes – Changes in the hormone especially during pregnancy or puberty. Hormonal treatment for menopause or birth control can cause spider veins.
- Family history of the disease – Research studies suggest that over 90% of people who suffer from spider veins have a family history of the disease.
- Obesity – Excessive body weight can put pressure on the legs and cause spider veins.
- Sedentary lifestyle – People who are less active or stand or sit in the same position for long hours may develop this disease.
- Vein damage – Vein damage or blood clots can obstruct the proper functioning of the valves.
- Pregnancy – During pregnancy, the growing fetus puts increased pressure on the uterus. There is also an increased supply of blood that may put pressure on the veins.
- Steroid creams – Overuse of steroid creams can cause spider veins.
Patients suffering from minor symptoms of spider veins can have their treatments at home. However, if the symptoms are worse, there are many small clinics and hospitals that offer treatment at affordable prices.
- Treatment is cheap.
- One-to-one consultation service.
- Easy and fast service. No need to stand on the waiting list.
- Limited facilities.
- Inability to handle emergency situations post-surgery.
- Wide range of facilities.
- Access to high-end medical equipment.
- High success rates of surgeries.
- High cost.
- Patients may have to wait for days even weeks to get a consultation.
Cost of surgery
The cost of surgery depends on several aspects such as:
- The hospital or clinic where the patient is having the treatment.
- City or place of residence.
- Fees for operation.
- The type of operation.
Post-op care and things to keep in mind
- Once you get home after the surgery, sit on a couch or the bed in a relaxed position. Keep your legs on a pillow while sitting. This will help in circulation.
- If you have stitches, you may need pain medications. Follow the doctor’s instructions and take your prescribed medications as scheduled.
- Wear compression stockings for the first few weeks.
- Take showers. Avoid baths where you can soak the wound site.
- It is best to avoid air travel for a few weeks.
- You can go for brisk walks for a few minutes to allow blood circulation.
- Avoid climbing stairs or strenuous activities.
- If you have inflammation and pain, you can use an ice pack for comfort. Remember to put a soft towel or cloth between the ice pack and the leg.
Risks of spider vein treatment
Procedures used for treating spider veins are generally safe, however, there may be certain risks such as:
- Some patients may develop hyperpigmentation
- Changes in skin sensitivity
- Scarring and bruising
- Nerve injury
- Blood clots
Prevention from spider veins
Certain lifestyle changes and discipline can help prevent the disease.
- Avoid a sedentary lifestyle.
- Go out for daily walks.
- Improve your posture.
- Avoid wearing high heels for long periods.
- Exercise regularly.
- Manage your body weight.
- Eat healthy foods.
Most of the surgeries for spider vein treatment are minimally invasive and do not require hospital stays. Goficure is a team of medical providers who will arrange your consultation visits, take care of the operation costs, and make arrangements for transportation post-surgery. You can talk to a counselor regarding the insurance coverage and other underlying costs as well.
- Take brisk walks
- Wear compression stockings
- Elevate the legs after surgery
- Go swimming or horse riding
- Sit or stand for long periods
- Drive immediately after surgery
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