Spider veins, referred to in the medical field as telangiectasia, are thin-walled veins near the surface of the skin which appear as red, blue or purple thread-like networks or patches. Spider veins differ from other veins in the body because they are dilated, making them more visible. Developing as a core pattern with many branches leading away from the center, spider veins earn their name from this unique shape.
Often appearing on the side of the thighs, directly on the calves or around the ankles, spider veins can be aesthetically displeasing to those individuals who suffer from this condition. A cluster of veins appearing on the side of the ankle is called corona phlebectatica, which means crown of veins. It is important for those who are prone to spider veins to take note if this type of cluster appears and it can be an indicator of a more serious vein disease present deeper below the surface of the skin.
While there is not one exclusively factor leading to the appearance of spider veins, there are who develop over time with age as vein walls begin to fluctuate. They are also linked to genetics, female hormones that affect vein walls and occupations or activities that require a person to stand for prolonged periods of time. It’s important not to ignore the development of spider veins as they may indicate related but more serious vein diseases such as venous insufficiency or varicose veins.
When treatment is being considered to remove or diminish spider veins, both location of the vein web and underlying cause must be taken into consideration. For those who suffer from spider veins that appear on the face, a laser-based approach (IPL) or radiofrequency device such as VeinWave are often recommended options. If the spider veins appearing on the face are larger and noticeably blue, it may be necessary to use sclerotherapy.
For those looking to treat spider veins on the legs, the opposite approach is taken. Spider veins on the legs are generally fed by an underlying feeder vein that should be initially treated with sclerotherapy for the most successful results to be achieved. Smaller veins closer to the surface that appear redder in color often respond well to laser-based technology or VeinWave treatments. Similarly, patients looking to treat spider veins appearing on the stomach and chest will most likely be recommended a combination of treatment types to successfully remove the appearance of these webs.
Spider veins can occur anywhere on the body and most commonly occur on the legs but they also commonly occur on the face and chest. Spider Veins on the face and torso have different causes. Spider Veins on the face are often caused by sun damage, rosacea, and skin diseases [lupus, scleroderma] or in response to medications like steroids. Spider veins that occur on the chest and trunk are may be caused by sun damage or they can be related to certain disease like cirrhosis of the liver or pregnancy. Or chest and trunk spider veins can be the result of a combination of the above.
For anyone suffering with spider veins, the first step to determining an individualized treatment plan is to schedule a consultation with an experienced physician. Those specializing in vein treatment are titled phlebologists and are well-versed in recognizing specific patterns of spider veins and recommending the appropriate course of action. An initial consultation is important as a first step towards developing trust in the physician who will play a primary role in the treatment process as well as providing an opportunity for the physician to get a first-hand look at the spider veins and determine if presenting patterns are suggestive of an underlying condition that is potentially more serious.
Modern advances in technology mean the treatment of spider veins has become an extremely effective, time-efficient and successful experience for patients. Many procedures take less than an hour and can be performed in the comfort of the attending physician’s office. Requiring little more than local anesthetic, patients undergoing these treatments don’t need to worry about an extensive hospital stay, risks associated with general anesthesia or painful side effects and recovery time. These highly effective treatments allow patients to walk out of the office unassisted after a procedure and provides the freedom to resume normal everyday activities within only a few hours. Additionally, patients experience a peace of mind knowing that these procedures are treating vein conditions at the source and not merely slowing down progress.
For some suffering with spider veins, treating these colorful surface-level webs is primarily a cosmetic task to reduce the appearance of displeasing veins. In this case, many insurance companies will consider the procedure non-essential for overall health and treatment costs may not be covered. However, if a patient has a diagnosed underlying vein condition such as varicose veins or venous insufficiency, it is very likely that costs will be covered under an insurance plan. Similarly, if a physician notices discrepancies in spider vein patterns at the initial consultation that might indicate a more serious condition, it’s possible an insurance provider may consider treatment essential and cover the cost of the procedure. Make sure to check with your specific insurance provider when you’re considering vein treatment services to see if reduced cost options or covered treatments are a part of your plan.