What Causes Spider Veins? 10 Risk Factors to Know

women's leg with spider veins

Table of Contents

  • How Spider Veins Affect You
  • What Causes Spider Veins?
  • 10 Spider Vein Risk Factors 
  • Spider Vein Treatment 
  • Ways to Prevent Spider Veins
  • Find a Vein Doctor to Treat Your Spider Veins

Don’t worry if you notice thin blue, purple, or red lines on your legs. You have spider veins, which are usually harmless and painless. Spider veins are tiny, damaged veins that appear like threads, webs, or branches under the surface of your legs or face.

They are quite common. Research suggests that 80% of men and 85% of women have spider veins or other vein problems like varicose veins. Although their cause is unknown, there are several spider veins risk factors that can affect your veins.

How Spider Veins Affect You

Spider veins usually won’t affect your physical health or cause any pain or harm. Some slight discomfort, pain, or burning may occur. The damaged veins can restrict your blood flow and increase pressure on your legs. 

You may want to get spider veins treated to relieve any discomfort. However, most people wish to get rid of them for cosmetic reasons as they can be unsightly. 

Spider veins can also indicate weakness or damage, leading to varicose veins and other problems if left untreated. 

What Causes Spider Veins?

While the exact cause of spider veins is unknown, certain risk factors will increase your chances of developing spider veins.

10 Spider Vein Risk Factors 

Spider vein risk factors include: 

  1. Family history: Spider veins can be hereditary. If your close relatives have had spider veins, you may develop them too. Research suggests that 90% of people with spider veins have a family history of vein problems.
  2. Age: In America, 41% of women over 50 years have spider veins. Research shows that spider veins are more common in older people as their veins grow weak with time.  
  3. Obesity: People who are overweight or have obesity tend to have vein problems in their lower legs and feet. Extra weight can increase the pressure on your legs and damage your veins. This pressure can put you at risk of developing spider veins.
  4. Other vein problems: If you have other problems like varicose veins or blood clots in your legs, you are at a higher risk of developing spider veins. People with vein conditions like deep vein thrombosis have a higher risk of spider veins. 
  5. Health conditions: Conditions like chronic constipation and abdominal tumors can cause increased abdominal pressure, making you more prone to spider veins. 
  6. Sitting or standing for long periods: Work that involves sitting or standing in the same position over four hours can increase pressure on your leg veins. Under this pressure, valves can wear out and stop pumping the blood back to the heart efficiently, increasing your chances of spider veins.
  7. Wearing tight clothing: Tight clothes or a girdle can increase pressure inside your body, contributing to spider veins in the legs. 
  8. Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes during puberty or menopause can weaken the veins and increase your risk of varicose and spider veins. If you’re on birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy, you are at a higher risk of developing spider veins.
  9. Pregnancy: Spider veins and varicose veins are common among pregnant women. Hormones secreted during pregnancy like progesterone can cause veins to relax. Blood can’t flow easily through relaxed veins but instead pools and forms spider veins. Apart from this, the increased weight and pressure on the womb can increase the pressure on the legs. Blood can’t flow freely, increasing the risk of spider veins. 
  10. Exposure to heat or the sun: Constant exposure to heat in hot tubs or saunas and prolonged exposure to sunlight are risk factors for spider veins. Exposure to heat or sunlight can cause veins to expand, which prevents proper blood circulation and increase the risk of spider veins.

Other factors like smoking and excess pressure in the face during sneezing or coughing can be spider vein risk factors.

Spider Vein Treatment 

Spider veins caused by risk factors like pregnancy often disappear on their own with time. But the spider veins may remain. Sometimes, spider veins occur due to other vein problems like varicose veins. Varicose vein removal can relieve pressure in the legs and make some spider veins disappear.

You may want to treat your spider veins for aesthetic reasons or to relieve discomfort. You’ll need to find and visit a vein doctor for spider vein removal. Commonly used spider vein treatments are:

  1. Sclerotherapy: Sclerotherapy is the go-to treatment for spider veins, as it is minimally invasive and almost pain-free. This effective procedure involves the injection of a chemical solution called a sclerosant into the problematic vein. The chemical shrinks and seals the vein’s walls and directs the blood into healthier veins. The spider veins then fade away.
  2. Laser therapy: Laser therapy is a non-invasive spider vein treatment. It involves delivering targeted laser energy to heat and close the damaged vein. The body absorbs the closed veins. The blood then circulates into healthy veins. Over time, the spider veins disappear. 
  3. Ohmic thermolysis: Ohmic thermolysis uses targeted microwave energy to deliver heat to the affected vein. The treatment shuts the damaged vein and reroutes the blood into healthy veins. Eventually, the spider veins clear up.

Ways to Prevent Spider Veins

If you’re at a high risk of developing spider veins, you may want to do the following to prevent them:

  • Walk and exercise your legs regularly
  • Avoid sitting or standing in one place for too long
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Avoid prolonged exposure to heat and sunlight
  • Wear gradient compression stockings to improve blood circulation

Find a Vein Doctor to Treat Your Spider Veins

If you have spider veins, consult a vein specialist for advice about the spider vein removal treatment that’s best for you. My Vein Treatment’s specialist locator tool can help you find a qualified vein doctor in your area. Choose your vein specialist, schedule an appointment, and get rid of your spider veins for good.  

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