Many women and men will at some point develop spider veins. Approximately 55 percent of women and 45 percent of men will experience the small, red, blue or purple-colored veins that twist and turn, looking like spider webs or tree branches in the skin. Researchers believe that more women develop spider veins than men due to them predominately being caused by hormones, pregnancy, the use of birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy.
Though they are rarely harmful, many people find them unsightly as they sit close to the surface of the skin and are easily visible in the legs and face. Fortunately, there are many ways that spider veins can be safely treated.
For minor spider veins in the legs, compression stocking can help treat them safely. Compression stockings place pressure on the legs, forcing the blood and the fluids in the legs to keep moving against gravity. When less blood pools in the legs, the risk of spider veins is reduced. Support hose, over-the-counter compression hose and compression stockings available by a prescription from a doctor can all help to treat the veins.
Sclerotherapy is often the first choice in treating spider veins. During the process, saline or detergent is injected into the skin and into the veins. This causes them to clot, clumping them together and making them less visible. Almost everyone that has spider veins is a candidate due to the safety of the process.
Several injections are sometimes required depending on how far the veins branch out. During the process, there is slight pain felt as the needle enters the skin, but most people experience very little pain through the procedure. The results typically last for two years, but veins eventually may appear again as genetics, hormones or conditions cause them to develop once more.
Laser treatments that are done on the surface of the skin can be helpful in reducing the veins. Strong bursts of light are sent through the skin’s surface to the underlying veins. The vein slowly fades and eventually disappearing as a result.
The heat from the laser can cause a small amount of pain, much like that felt from a sunburn. Each session lasts for 15 to 20 minutes and two to three sessions are normally required to eliminate the vein completely. Many people are not candidates for laser therapy, due to different skin types and colors.
After receiving treatment, many experts recommend wearing sunscreen, exercising regularly, losing weight, not crossing the legs, elevating the legs and not standing for extended periods of time to prevent them from occurring in the future. Talking with a doctor is the best way to determine which treatment is best, depending on the size and the location of the veins.