Spider veins aka Varicose Veins are commonly observed in aging women and as per 'The National Women's Health Information Center', around 60% Americans tend to develop some form of spider veins or the other during their lives. This condition occurs in almost all people entering the old age zone. Spider veins, also known as telangiectasias or sunburst varicosities is often confused with varicose veins.
However, these are smaller and less painful compared to the former. Spider veins are fine red, blue, or purple veins observed on the thigh, calves, ankles, hands, or face. Appearing either on a small area or a large portion of the skin, these veins appear like spider webs blanketed on the skin, which is how they get their name 'spider vein'.
Causes of Spider Veins
The human body comprises two major kinds of blood vessels: arteries and veins. The arteries carry oxygenated blood (except pulmonary artery) from the heart, while veins carry de-oxygenated blood (except pulmonary vein) from the different parts of the body to the heart. Veins possess valves known as venous valves that prevent back flow of blood flowing within them. This means the valves ensure that the blood flows in only one direction. However, sometimes due to aging or other specific factors like heredity or hormonal changes, exposure to sun, genetics, pregnancy, injury to the leg, obesity, consumption of birth control pills, standing or sitting in one position for extended periods of time etc., may conduce to the formation of these veins. This means that these conditions may cause the veins to debilitate, thereby allowing some blood to trickle back into the vein. As blood starts pooling in the veins, the veins get clogged, congested, and swollen. These gorged veins appear like spider webs on the skin's surface and are unsightly.
How to Prevent Spider Veins
Spider vein is not a serious health condition, however, its presence can make people withdraw from social gatherings, due to the embarrassment they cause. Although there is no exact method that can be jotted down to prevent them, there are certain precautionary measures that one can take.
Avoid Standing or Sitting in One Position for Extended Period
Waiters, hairdressers, lecturers, salesmen, watchmen, security guards, people working in factories, etc., all happen to have jobs which call for standing for long hours. Moreover, people like software professionals, writers, etc., have jobs that demand long hours of sitting in one position. One needs to flex one's muscles every now and then by taking short walks. If walking is not possible, flexing one's muscles every ten minutes will also help. While sitting, avoid crossing your legs and while resting keep your legs above the heart level to minimize pooling in the veins.
Maintaining a healthy exercise regime helps prevent one from putting on weight, and also reduces the stress caused on the veins. Aerobic exercises or periodic walks stimulate the calf muscles and help pump the de-oxygenated blood that was pooled in the legs. Regular exercise will not only reduce vein pressure and pooling, but will also strengthen leg muscles, thereby decreasing the chances of spider vein formation in the future.
Avoid Excessive Exposure to Sun
Wear sunscreen before going out on a sunny day. Wear clothes that will leave minimum skin exposed to the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun. Moreover, avoid exposing the legs to extreme heat like from hot tubs and hot baths.
Right Type of Clothes
Tight clothes conduce to vein constriction, followed by injury. The clothes one chooses should be such that they do not inhibit blood circulation. To stimulate venous circulation one can wear compression stockings or elastic support stockings; especially while traveling for long hours in cars, buses, or airplanes. Moreover, wearing low heels or flat shoes helps stimulate the calf muscles while walking, thereby enhancing blood circulation.
Despite taking all these precautionary measures, if one finds oneself inflicted by spider veins, then one needs to undergo treatment. Treatment comprises injections, laser vein removal treatment, surgery to destroy damaged veins, or sclerotherapy. The cosmetic dermatologist will be able to suggest which treatment type is appropriate. Make sure you consult an experienced cosmetic dermatologist as complications during sclerotherapy are not uncommon. However, even after the best treatment, the probability of spider veins occurrence in various other parts of the body is high. This is why prevention is better than cure!