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Spider Veins

Should I Have a Professional Look at My Spider Veins?


We’ve all seen spider veins – those little red, purple or blue lines that run across someone’s leg or sometimes face. They can appear as a single vein, or as a cluster or web of lines. These are small, damaged blood vessels and are typically harmless. Most often, people opt for treatment purely for cosmetic reasons, as they are often considered unsightly.


The difference between varicose and spider veins

These two conditions are not that far removed, but there are some differences between them. Both are classified as types of a medical condition referred to as venous insufficiency. This medical condition appears when the valves in the blood vessels are weakened or damaged.


The difference between spider and varicose veins is that the former appears as small, thin lines that are flat and painless, while the latter is often larger, situated deeper, appears lumpy or twisted, and causes more discomfort.


Factors that can cause spider veins

There are a number of factors that can contribute to the appearance of these damaged blood vessels. These include, but are not necessarily limited to:


  • Damage caused by ultraviolet light from exposure to the sun
  • Actions that cause excess pressure in the facial area, such as forceful sneezing, coughing, or vomiting, or even childbirth
  • Hormones, such as estrogen, that causes weakening of the valves (this can be accelerated by the use of birth control and menopause treatment)
  • Standing for long periods of time can weaken the valves in the blood vessels of the legs
  • Previous damage to a vein or the presence of a blood clot
  • Pregnancy
  • A family history of this condition
  • Being female increases the chances of this condition appearing
  • Old age can cause valves to weaken
  • Being overweight can put extra pressure on vein and valve performance


Treatment options

Spider veins are typically harmless. However, you may want to treat it for cosmetic reasons. If this is the case, there are a number of treatment options you can consider. These include:


  • Sclerotherapy – a solution is injected in the veins to redirect blood flow
  • Laser/light treatment – usually used for the facial area, not the legs
  • Endovenous laser therapy (EVLT) – an interventional radiological procedure that applies heat directly to the vein, causing it to collapse


For more information about the appearance, prevention, and treatment of spider veins, contact the leading vein treatment centre in South Africa: The Gibson Vein Practice in Port Elizabeth.

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