As we age, many unpleasant things change about our body. Some changes are unavoidable and we are predisposed to them due to heredity. There are other changes that have to do with how we’ve treated our bodies over the years. Sometimes it is the combination of both heredity and bad choices that create these changes. When it comes to spider veins, this is likely the case. Let’s take a look at what exactly they are, how they can be treated and if it is not too late, how to possibly prevent them in the first place.
What are Spider Veins?
Many people notice as they age large, raised, swollen blood vessels usually on their legs. These are technically called Varicose veins and many people are not so happy about their appearance. Smaller, red or purple blood vessels that have a web-like appearance are called spider veins and are equally unwanted and unappreciated.
What Causes Spider Veins?
It is likely that there are many contributing factors to the presence of spider veins. Heredity is one and the one thing you cannot avoid. Other factors include occupations that require a lot of standing. For example, hair stylists, nurses and factory workers. Spending a lot of time on your feet can contribute to more noticeable changes in your veins.
Along with standing for long periods of time, being obese also does not help. Carrying a large amount of weight on your legs adds a lot pressure. Also, any additional weight in your abdomen can spread more spider veins. Conditions such as tumors, constipation or wearing a girdle can attribute to the appearance of spider veins.
Other causes of spider veins include a history of blood clots, postmenopausal hormone replacement, using birth control pills and the influence of hormones during pregnancy, puberty and menopause. It is also possible to notice spider veins after a type of injury or trauma to your skin, or even exposure to ultraviolet rays.
What are Symptoms of Spider Veins?
Spider veins have been known to become painful. People have described it as cramping and aching. Your legs may become restless or you may have the sensations of burning, throbbing, tingling or heaviness in your legs.
Women have reported a fluctuation in pain during specific part of the menstrual cycle and during pregnancy. Hormones do affect the veins, and pain can increase during these times.
On rare occasion, other symptoms have been reported. People sometimes report swelling, ulcers and darkening of the skin around the ankle area.
Can Spider Veins be Treated?
The good news is that spider veins can be treated. In general, there are two options: sclerotherapy or laser surgery. While both can help treat current spider veins, neither option will prevent future spider veins from appearing.
Sclerotherapy is a procedure in which your provider will inject a solution into the vein causing it to scar and close up. This will cause the blood to reroute to other, healthier veins. You will notice the spider vein fading away over the course of a few weeks, although it may not completely disappear. While this procedure is usually effective, it is possible that the same vein may need to be redone.
The best part is that anesthesia is not required to perform this procedure. However, after the treatment you may experience some swelling, itching and possible skin color changes to the affected area.
The other option that is available in the treatment of spider veins is laser surgery. Strong bursts of light are sent into the vein that make it disappear. For this procedure, no incisions or needles are used, however it does require light anesthesia. Side effects of this procedure are similar to sclerotherapy, but the results are often less effective.
How to Prevent Spider Veins
Whether you’ve had a procedure to get rid of spider veins or if you are looking to prevent them from even occuring, there are a few things you can do to keep your veins healthy. Keep in mind, some people will get spider veins regardless of what they do to try to prevent them.
- Wear sunscreen and limit your time in the sun
- Refrain from using a tanning bed
- Control your weight
- Exercise regularly, keeping your leg muscles strong and toned
- Avoid crossing your legs for long periods of time
- Elevate your legs as much as possible when sitting
- Try to not stand or sit for long periods of time. Work on shifting your weight from leg to leg if this is unavoidable
- Use elastic support stockings and avoid clothing that constricts your waist, groin or legs
- Do not wear high heels for long periods of time
- Eat a healthy diet composed of fiber rich foods to avoid constipation
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