Spiders like to hide out, but you don’t have to!
Those colourful bursts of spidery veins that adorn the thighs and calves of both women and men as young as 20 can often cause embarrassment.
The wavy lines of purple, red, and blue gradually appear near the surface of the skin and stay there. And they don’t exactly blend in with your skin tone or cover easily with makeup.
Many people who have spider veins feel forced to cover their legs with long pants or skirts. They may slather on self-tanner in an attempt to camouflage them or spend hours in the sun trying deliberately to tan which not only doesn’t work but accelerates skin aging!
Not your best look, is it?
You work hard to look after your health and skin and to keep your legs toned. It doesn’t seem right. Let’s find out what causes vein disease, particularly spider veins, and learn what can be done to help you look and feel better.
The good news is that Dr. Maureen Sweeney treats patients with spider veins at Live Young Medical in Sidney, B.C.
How vein disease develops
Your heart pumps oxygen and nutrient-rich blood throughout your body via your arteries. The blood returns to your heart via the veins. Veins have valves that help to regulate the flow in one direction, but sometimes the valves weaken, causing blood to leak back down the vein instead of flowing forward to your heart.
Over time the walls of the veins weaken and cause them to dilate and multiply on the skin surface.
Do you have spider veins or varicose veins?
Spider veins or telangiectasia or reticular veins, as they are known medically, affect 60% of the population, predominantly women.
They usually appear as fine lines just beneath the skin in colours of red or purple and may resemble tree branches or spider webs. Spider veins are most commonly seen on the legs and sometimes the face but unlike varicose veins, they do not make the skin bulge out.
Heredity is the most common risk for spider and varicose veins. If your mother or grandmother had spider veins you are more likely to have them too. Before you get upset with your genes, however, there are other ways you could have acquired these colourful but unwanted designs on your skin.
Conditions that restrict your circulation cause veins to swell. A sedentary lifestyle, sitting or standing all day, being overweight, and pregnancy can all affect your venous circulation.
The hormone estrogen may weaken vein valves and lead to varicose veins. This is why it is thought to be more common in women. The high estrogen and progesterone in pregnancy as well as the added pressure in the pelvis are why they multiply at this time. Using hormonal birth control or taking menopausal hormone therapy may aggravate your risk of varicose or spider veins.
What is the treatment for spider veins?
The typical and most effective treatment is to inject these small veins with a solution that irritates the lining of the vein causing it to seal off. This procedure is called sclerotherapy.
Dr. Sweeney administers a series of injections into the veins using tiny needles. The number of sessions needed depends on how extensive the vein matting is. Usually six sessions are necessary with annual retreatment in people who do not have significant deeper varicose veins.
The treated veins will disappear over weeks and months however, about 10% of people may not respond. Retreatment over the years is needed because the underlying vein disease continues and forms new dilated veins. Prevention and slowing the progress of this problem include avoiding aggravators such as prolonged sitting or standing. Some professions and lifestyles make this unavoidable so wearing compression socks or stockings can not only relieve the aching and swelling that can accompany poor circulation in the veins but can also slow progression.
The treatment is mildly uncomfortable. For the best results, you will need to walk after the treatments. Side effects of treatment may include an allergic reaction, redness, itching, bruising, swelling, ulceration, and new telangiectasia, which typically resolve within 6 months.
Although you cannot be pregnant or nursing at the time of treatment, it is no longer necessary to wait until your childbearing years are over to have sclerotherapy.
At Live Young Medical, Dr. Maureen Sweeney provides treatment with sclerotherapy for spider veins.
Book a consultation to find out more.