Spider veins are networks of blood vessels or thin lines that commonly show up on feet, legs, and face. They twist and turn like varicose veins, but are smaller in size, and may be red, blue, or purple. While they’re typically harmless, they can cause bothersome symptoms, such as a burning or aching sensation in your legs, particularly after spending a lot of time standing. Less commonly, spider veins cause darkening of the skin, swelling, and ulcers. Any symptoms may worsen during pregnancy or menstruation.
Anyone can develop spider veins. An estimated 30-60% of adults have spider or varicose veins. A variety of factors increases your risk for spider veins, including:
Spider veins are also more common in females than males and become more frequent with age.
If you’re experiencing pain from spider veins, or simply wish to reduce their appearance, treatment options include sclerotherapy. Sclerotherapy involves injections of Asclera®, a sclerosing agent, into the spider veins, which causes the blood vessels to clot. Eventually, the clotted vein will be replaced with tissue.
Sclerotherapy treatments for spider veins may cause bruising, itching, swelling, and skin tone changes that may be permanent. Your healthcare provider can help determine which procedure is ideal for you.
Wearing support stockings, sold at many pharmacies and surgical supply stores, can help reduce discomfort caused by spider veins. You can also elevate your legs, particularly after standing for a period of time. Practicing good hygiene, staying moderately active, and losing any excess weight may also help.
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