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Quick Facts: Spider Vein and Varicose Vein

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Quick Facts: Spider Vein and Varicose Vein
  • Published

    March 24, 2014

  • Written by

    Dr Garth Dicker

Spider and varicose veins are the two main types of highly visible veins that encourage people to seek treatments. Below, you’ll find our quick, bulleted all-you-need-to-know guide on spider and varicose veins, including information pertaining to what they are, what causes them, and what treatment options are available for people suffering with leg veins.

Spider Vein Facts:

  • Spider veins are also known as roadmap veins because, for lack of a better term, they resemble the intricate criss-crossing of a network of roads you would find on a map. Similarly, the term spider refers to the vein’s “spidery” appearance;
  • Spider veins are extremely small blood vessels that mostly occur beneath the surface of the legs. Over time, these blood vessels become larger, giving the appearance of small cobwebs on the surface of the skin;
  • The likelihood of spider veins increases as a result of gender, genetics and the type of work you do. Firstly, if you are female, you are more likely to develop spider veins in your lifetime than a male. Moreover, if you have a relative who has the condition, you increase your chances of developing spider veins. Up to 80 per cent of all people who have spider veins have it due to hereditary factors. Finally, if you work in an occupation that involves a lot of standing throughout the day, you are more susceptible to developing spider veins. Ostensibly, these factors can increase your chances of getting spider veins, but there are by no means causal factors. You may not develop spider veins even if you tick all the boxes, while at the same time you can develop spider veins even if you don’t satisfy any of the criteria outlined;
  • Contrary to a common held belief, tanning has little effect on the appearance of spider veins. Rather, exposure to the sun can have a detrimental effect on veins, causing them to thin and spread even more. This is because UV light is harmful on skin, damaging it by breaking down the collagen needed to prevent spider veins from expanding;
  • Another myth that can be busted is that gaining weight contributes to the chances of developing spider veins. In reality, it is the opposite – weight loss – that can reveal the hitherto invisible spider veins. Naturally, the more slender you are, the greater the likelihood your that spider veins will be visible. Otherwise, gaining weight will have no impact on whether you develop spider veins and can actually serve to hide them;
  • Ingesting vitamins will not help prevent the formulation of spider veins. Unfortunately, while vitamins may be good for your overall health, there is scant research to support the theory that vitamins have a direct correlation with spider vein prevention. In fact, contemporary research shows no links between the two;
  • Treatment options for veins are readily available for spider veins. Sclerotherapy is considered the most beneficial treatment for ridding your legs of unflattering spider veins. Essentially, sclerotherapy allows large areas of the veins to be treated with tiny needles, containing a sclerosing solution, irritating the lining of the vessel. This causes the vessels to swell up and come together, allowing the blood to clot. Following sclerotherapy treatment, it takes roughly a few weeks before the vessel forms a scar tissue that allows the vein to lose its “spidery” appearance.

Varicose Vein Facts:

  • Varicose veins are particularly common amongst older people, though they can develop in any age group. They are typically larger blood vessels that can protrude excessively, forming a hose-like bump on the surface on the skin;
  • The majority of varicose veins are formed out of a vein trunk that is hidden deep behind a vein. In order for successful treatment to take effect, this hidden vein must be treated;
  • Laser vein therapy is an increasingly popular option for treating varicose veins. Laser therapy works by shooting a series of lights, or lasers, directly into the hidden vein trunk, allowing natural regeneration to take place once it has been removed;

Radiofrequency treatments are also an option for treating varicose veins. This procedure works by converting radiofrequency energy into heat, using it to puncture the vein that allows it to be reabsorbed into the body.

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