Do Spider Veins Mean Poor Circulation?
Worried about the thin blue, purple, or red lines on your legs or face? These are spider veins, and while they’re not dangerous to your health, they can be signs of poor circulation. Veins weaken for a variety of reasons, and spider veins are extremely common. Here’s a look at how poor circulation leads to spider veins, possible symptoms, and the different treatment options available.
What are Spider Veins?
Spider veins are damaged blood vessels that have weakened and expanded. They’re located just below the surface of the skin, so it’s easy to see them and their blue, red, or purple hues. Spider veins twist and turn and often appear in clusters, giving them a spider web-like appearance. They’re typically harmless, but a medical professional can examine them if you’re concerned about your health.
Spider vs Varicose Veins
Spider veins and varicose veins are damaged blood vessels. Spider veins don’t usually cause health issues. Varicose veins, on the other hand, are bigger than spider veins and are also more concerning. When a vein becomes varicose, it can cause blood clots, bleeding, ulcers, and more if not properly treated, so it’s important to have a medical professional examine varicose veins.
Where do Spider Veins Form?
Spider veins often form in the lower legs, ankles, and feet. It’s common for a vein to become varicose in these areas, too. Since valves there must work harder due to gravity, they can become weak and allow blood to accumulate, resulting in spider veins and varicose veins. The face is another area where spider veins commonly form.
Spider veins don’t typically cause pain or other symptoms. On rare occasions, people with spider veins may experience mild symptoms like slight discomfort or a slight burning sensation.
A vein that has become varicose can cause symptoms like leg swelling, aches in the legs, burning sensations, itching, and changes in color in the legs surrounding varicose veins. If you notice these symptoms, contact a medical professional to schedule an examination.
Is Poor Circulation to Blame?
Yes, spider veins and varicose veins can be a sign of poor circulation. How do spider veins and varicose veins develop in the first place? In healthy blood vessels, one-way valves support blood flow towards the heart and prevent blood from flowing backwards. When valves become weak, circulation is negatively affected and some blood is allowed to flow backwards, where it pools. This puts pressure on the vein, causing the vein walls to weaken and making the vein bulge and twist. This causes spider veins and, in more severe cases, varicose veins.
Spider veins can develop when you sit or stand for long periods of time, and become more common during pregnancy and as you get older. Hormonal changes, sunlight, injuries, and obesity can also increase your risk of developing spider veins. Fortunately, spider veins aren’t usually a threat to your health. If you’re worried about them, talk to a medical professional to get their opinion. If you don’t like the way spider veins look, there are cosmetic procedures like sclerotherapy available to reduce their appearance.
Are Women More Likely to Have Issues with Veins?
Women are more likely than men to get spider veins and varicose veins. People who have a family history of spider veins or who are pregnant are also at a higher risk of developing this condition.
How to Prevent Spider Veins
There are a variety of steps you can take to help prevent spider veins and varicose veins and to improve circulation.
- Don’t sit or stand for too long: Sitting or standing for extended periods of time can contribute to spider veins. If you sit for a long time, get up and walk around every half an hour to improve circulation. It can also help to elevate your feet while sitting. If you stand for a long time, sit down for a bit every half an hour.
- Exercise on a regular basis: Physical activity can encourage blood flow in your legs.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Excess body weight can put additional pressure on your leg veins and foot veins. Try to maintain a weight that’s healthy for you to help keep your blood vessels working properly.
- Avoid tight clothes: Wearing tight clothing can negatively affect circulation and lead to spider veins.
- Wear compression stockings: Compression stockings can improve blood flow in your legs, helping prevent spider veins from forming. Talk to a medical professional before wearing compression stockings.
Vein treatment procedures can make spider veins less visible and help you feel more confident in your skin. There are several treatment options available, including sclerotherapy and spider vein laser treatment. These procedures are minimally invasive, so you don’t have to undergo surgery. Instead, you’ll experience no down time and only minimal discomfort. These vein treatments are effective on varicose veins, too.
Before the procedure, someone from your treatment center will examine the spider veins and varicose veins in your legs and anywhere else, and determine which treatment is your best option. They’ll also discuss your symptoms and health concerns. Additionally, you’ll learn how to prepare for your treatment, what to expect during your appointment, and what to do after the procedure to help your body recover.
Sclerotherapy is a treatment that collapses spider veins to reduce their appearance on your legs and other locations on your body. During this treatment, a small needle is inserted into the damaged spider vein or varicose vein and injects a chemical solution. This solution irritates the vein, causing it to scar and collapse. Blood flow is then rerouted through healthy blood vessels, and your body reabsorbs the collapsed spider veins over time. You’ll typically see results in just a few weeks.
Thanks to the small needle used in this treatment, sclerotherapy is virtually pain free. You’ll be able to enjoy most of your typical activities following treatment, although you may have to skip vigorous exercise for a bit. You will also be required to wear compression stockings.
Vascular Laser Treatment
Vascular laser treatment is a procedure that uses laser energy to close spider veins and reduce their appearance on your legs and other areas. A handpiece sends energy at a set wavelength into the spider veins. This energy heats up the vein walls, causing them to scar and close. Blood is then rerouted through healthy veins and your body reabsorbs the collapsed spider veins over time. You’ll typically see results in a week or so.
This laser treatment is minimally invasive and typically causes only minimal discomfort. You’ll be able to return to work and other daily activities following treatment, however you will be required to avoid strenuous exercise for a few days. You will also be required to wear compression stockings.
Who Qualifies for Treatments?
A consultation at your vein center will determine whether or not you qualify for treatment. At Polaris Vein Center, we look at your vein health and overall health to see if you’re a good candidate for our procedures. If you have healthy blood vessels that can carry blood to your heart once your spider veins are closed, you’re likely a good candidate. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you won’t be able to receive sclerotherapy. For people who have previously had a blood clot, eligibility is decided on a case-by-case basis.
As a patient, you’ll also need to follow instructions from our team on how to care for your blood vessels and legs after the treatment. Being willing to follow post-procedure instructions helps ensure your body heals properly and that you achieve the best results.
Choose Polaris Vein Center for Your Vein Health Needs
Whether you’re dealing with spider veins or varicose veins, the medical team at Polaris Vein Center can address your symptoms and make your damaged veins less visible. Dr. Amanda Cooper is a board-certified radiologist who takes a patient-centered approach to care. During your consultation and appointment, Dr. Cooper and our team strive to make you feel as comfortable as possible for a positive patient experience. Our procedures are effective, our equipment is modern, and our team is experienced, so you can expect great results. Our treatments are ideal for women and men. We look forward to treating your spider veins and varicose veins and helping you look and feel your best.