While they do not cause the pain and heaviness in the legs that are common with varicose veins, spider veins may be just as much of a nuisance due to their unsightly appearance. They may not appear as bulging from the skin, but they may appear as red or blue in color and may form a variety of shapes or patterns such as spider webs or tree branches. In some cases, they may have a central point and jut out in different directions. While usually considered a cosmetic concern, many seek treatment to find relief. They are often considered a mild and fairly common version of varicose veins. Inefficiencies in the valves in the veins may be to blame for the condition, as these inefficiencies may allow blood to flow backward in the vein, resulting in blood pooling which may cause spider veins or varicose veins.
There are several treatments that may prove effective in the treatment of spider veins. Sclerotherapy is a possible treatment that involves the use of a chemical sclerant that irritates the vessel lining, leading to the collapse and shrinking of the vein. The chemical sclerant used may be of a liquid formulation or a foam formulation. Laser and light therapies may be helpful as well, and are intended to destroy the problem veins by causing their collapse. Individuals with family members who have spider veins may be at a greater risk, as well as individuals of an advanced age. Other risk factors include hormonal changes, pregnancy, obesity, prolonged standing/sitting or sun exposure.
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