Spider Veins FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about Spider Veins:

What are spider veins?

Spider veins (also called telangiectasia or venulectasias) are enlarged veins near the skin surface that appear purple, red, or blue. They are commonly found on the legs, though they can also appear on the face and other parts of the body.

These enlarged veins are usually short unconnected lines or arranged in a sunburst pattern like a spider's web. Unsightly spider veins can occur in small, unnoticed areas, but they can also grow to cover a large area of skin if left untreated.

Most spider veins don't hurt - they don't have any symptoms beside looking bad. That's why they are usually only considered as a cosmetic problem. In rare cases, spider veins that develop from deeper "reticular" or feeder veins may come with a burning sensation, itching, or dull throbbing pain.

Typically, spider veins appear to have diameters of 1 mm or less, but their actual diameters may up to 3 mm under the surface. Small spider veins are usually pinkish red, whereas larger spider veins are blue or purple in color.

Sometimes, a cluster of spider veins may appear as a red or purple patch called blushing or matting (telangiectatic matting) that are often mistaken for bruises. Unlike bruises, however, spider vein mattings do not fade with time.

Another form of spider veins, called an ankle flare, is a cluster of spider veins - usually associated with another form of vein problem called varicose veins - that is located on the inner ankle.

Spider veins affect mostly women, though it can also occur in men.

What causes spider veins?

To understand the root cause of spider veins, we have to step back a little and talk about veins.

Veins are a big part of your body's circulatory system - they carry blood back to the heart after it has delivered nutrients to the body's tissues. Inside these veins are a series of one-way valves that ensure that the blood travels only toward the heart. These valves separate veins into many internal segments.

When the valves don't work properly, blood can "build up" in a segment of the vein. This increases the pressure on the vein and causes the vein walls to stretch. After a while, the stretched vein walls would develop micro-tears and leaks that allow blood and metabolism by-products to seep out and stain the outside of the veins. We see this as the unsightly purple, red, and blue color of spider veins.

Left untreated, the stretched vein walls in one segment of the vein will lead to valve failures in neighboring segments - just like a domino effect. That's why when they are left untreated, small spider veins will "grow" into large ones.

What factors contribute to spider veins?

There are several factors that cause some people, but not others, to develop spider veins:

  • Genetics
    Most women with spider veins have mothers and/or grandmothers who also have them. These women unfortunately inherit a tendency for weak vein walls and poorly functioning vein valves.

    They also tend to develop spider veins at a relatively young age (in their thirties or even in their twenties). Their spider vein conditions also tend to be more severe, like multiple patches that grow larger year after year.

  • Hormones
    During pregnancy, and to a lesser degree also during their monthly cycles, fluctuations in the female sex hormone estrogen and progesterone cause the softening of the vein walls and valves. This makes a woman's veins more prone to stretching.

    Increased blood volume, which is needed to provide circulation to the fetus, also causes increased pressure on the vein walls. The growing fetus also exerts pressure on the pelvis, which in turn, causes more pressure on the leg veins.

    Some women see spider veins develop during their pregnancies that persist after their babies are born. Others see these veins disappear after the birth of their babies, only to see them reappear later in life.

  • Prolonged standing or sitting
    Both prolonged standing and sitting cause a great amount of pressure to develop in leg veins. In both conditions, the calf muscles are inactive and therefore cannot help push venous blood to return to the heart. This causes blood to pool in the veins, thus resulting in increased pressure on the vein walls.

    This pressure drops once you begin to walk, so if your job requires you to stand or sit for prolonged periods, remember to take short breaks and walk around for a few minutes every hour.

  • Injury or trauma
    In some people, spider veins appear after injury or trauma to the vein. These include broken ankle, surgery, car accident or sports injury. Bruising, which is pooled blood resulting from broken veins under the skin, can also lead to an inflammatory response, which in turn, can result in enlarged veins.

    Sometimes, spider veins can appear many years after the wound has healed (for instance, if you bruised your shin by accidentally banging it against the coffee table, spider veins can appear in that location years afterwards.)

  • Vein conditions
    In men, spider veins are usually the result of blow-outs from nearby varicose veins. High pressure from these veins cause neighboring smaller veins to stretch and enlarge. These spider veins are usually darker and have larger diameters than the spider veins in women.

    Spider vein matting, which resemble bruisings that do not fade, is often caused by the healing process of injuries and bruises, as well as complications from schlerotherapy.

    Ankle flares, or cluster of spider veins found on the inside of ankles, are often associated with chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), a form of poor circulation where venous blood is not efficiently returned to the heart.

  • Causes of facial spider veins
    For most people, spider veins occur in their legs. But there are instances where fine veins in the face and nose area become enlarged and darker in color.

    For some, prominent facial veins are caused by rosacea. This condition is marked by numerous red spider veins in the nose, cheek, forehead, and chin, and is sometimes accompanied by acne breakouts. Although the cause of rosacea is not known, it seems that alcohol, spicy food, and stress may play a role.

    Chronic sun exposure can also cause or exacerbate facial spider veins. In some people with chronic allergies, repetitive coughing and sneezing can lead to enlargement of veins around the nose and below the nostrils. Bouts of violent vomitings can also lead to spider veins on the cheeks.

The first three factors account for most of the causes of spider veins. Please keep in mind that there may be a primary and several secondary or contributing factors to spider veins, and that these factors may not contribute equally to spider veins in different individuals.

What are the conventional treatments for spider veins?

There are two main conventional treatments for spider veins: sclerotherapy or injection therapy, and laser treatment. Let's review them both.

Sclerotherapy or injection therapy

In this treatment, chemical irritants (or sclerosants) are injected at the general location of spider veins. This chemical irritates the lining of the vein and cause blood clots to form and the veins to collapse. Blood is prevented from entering these veins, and the body will slowly remove these spider veins. This process can take anywhere from two weeks to as long as a year.

Sclerotherapy is an outpatient procedure, and may require many repeat visits to your doctor's office. In most cases, your doctor may elect to use a salt water or saline solution as the sclerosant. In other cases, anesthetic or surfactants such as sodium tetradecyl sulfate (STS) are used. After the injection, a compression bandage is applied to make the vein collapse.

Although sclerotherapy is a safe procedure and is effective in treating minor vein problems, it does have several drawbacks:

  • First, sclerotheraphy does not address the underlying cause of spider veins, therefore it is not a permanent cure - up to 70% of spider veins reappear after about three to four years, with some reappearing in as early as a couple of months.

  • Second, sclerotherapy can be a painful procedure, especially if saline or a salt solution is used. For some, pain and tenderness can last for weeks.

  • Third, sclerotherapy can leave temporary and permanent patches of yellor or brown discolored skin at the site of the injection, which can create a larger cosmetic problem.

Laser treatment

A laser is basically a concentrated beam of light that when focused on a particular spot, can create a large amount of destructive heat. When applied to the skin, the laser's thermal energy is absorbed primarily by blood cells inside the spider vein. These blood cells become very hot and create a clotting effect which collapses or closes the vein. The body will then slowly remove the collapsed veins, and thus reduce the appearance of the spider veins.

Depending on the machine used, there are various forms of laser treatments. These include argon laser, pulsed dye laser, and intense pulsed light.

Laser theraphy can also be adapted to treat pigmented lesions and warts, as well as to remove unwanted hair. Because it is less painful than sclerotheraphy, laser is often the preferred treatment method for fine spider veins, especially the ones in the face. However, even this treatment has several drawbacks:

  • First and foremost, the effect of laser is often temporary because it does not address the root cause of the vein conditions - most people see their spider veins come back after the procedure. The result is also variable - some people experience very good results, whereas others see virtually no changes.

  • Laser therapy is often very expensive and is not covered by most insurance policies. A patient may also need several rounds of laser therapy to see the effects.

  • Laser is less effective for spider veins in the leg and for larger spider veins.

  • In people with darker skin, laser is usually not as effective as in people with lighter skin. This is because the skin pigment melanin also absorbs the laser's energy, thus diverting the laser's effect on spider veins.

  • Although laser therapies are less painful than sclerotherapy, it is not completely painless. Some feel stinging or burning sensation, which may last for several hours. Others may experience blisters and skin discoloration in the treated area.

What are the natural alternatives for spider veins?

Given the drawbacks of conventional treatments, more and more people are turning to natural supplements and creams for spider veins. Advances in scientific purification and investigations into the active ingredients of many herbs have helped make natural supplements a promising alternative for those with spider veins.

As opposed to sclerotheraphy and laser therapy, natural supplements aim to address the root cause of vein conditions: weak vein walls and valves. Many of the herbs listed below act to improve the strength of the vein walls, increase flexibility, normalize vein permeability, and improve blood microcirculation.

The best herbs and botanicals for spider veins are:

  • Japanese pagoda tree
    Japanese pagoda tree extract is definitely one of the most effective herbs for vein health. The extract has been used widely in Europe since the mid-1960s for treatment of various vein conditions. It is thought to enhance vein and capillary stability, normalize their permeability, and reduce inflammation. Japanese pagoda tree extract has also been shown to improve blood microcirculation.

    A wealth of double-blind placebo-controlled clinical studies, involving more than 2,000 patients, have shown the effectiveness of this extract in treating various vein conditions.

  • Horse chestnut
    Horse chestnut extract, derived from the seed of prickly fruit of the shady horse chestnut tree, has been used for many decades as an herbal preparation for various vein conditions, including spider veins and varicose veins.

    Horse chestnut extract has been shown to reduce inflammation and improve the vein wall tone to facilitate blood flow back to the heart. It seems to fix microscopic leaks in tiny veins and capillaries, as well as reinforce the strength of the vein walls, promote their elasticity, and prevent swelling.

  • Grape seed
    Grape seed extract is rich in antioxidants, which helps protect the cell against harmful free radicals. It has been used successfully to improve circulation, increase skin elasticity, and prevent blood clots from forming. Popular uses of grape seed extracts include treating vascular or vein conditions, such as spider vein and varicose vein, as well as for improving vision and maintaining a healthy heart.

  • Vitamins K
    Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin that is required for proper blood clotting function, as well as for maintaining bone health. A form of this vitamin called vitamin K1, has been used for many years by doctors as topical cosmetic applications to help heal bruises and scrapes, as well as for treating varicose veins.

A note about Venarin Supplement and VenarinMax cream
Venarin Supplement contains high-grade Japanese pagoda tree, horse chestnut, and grape seed extracts in vegetarian capsule formula. VenarinMax cream is a maximum strength natural topical cream with Japanese pagoda tree, vitamin B5, and vitamin K1.

The combination of Venarin Supplement and VenarinMax cream are designed to help you achieve and maintain optimal vein health. By addressing the root cause of spider veins, Venarin will help you naturally reduce the unsightly appearance of spider veins and help you regain a beautiful leg appearance.

Learn more about Venarin and how it works: Venarin - FAQ

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