Spider Veins

Spider veins — thin red lines or networks of blood vessels that appear on the legs and feet — are a milder version of varicose veins. They may sometimes appear on the face. Although usually harmless, they can sometimes cause pain, burning, or aching, especially after standing or sitting for long periods of time.

Cause

Spider veins are caused by a combination of hereditary and environmental factors. In some cases, weak valves in the vein may cause poor circulation and allow blood to flow in the wrong direction within the vein.

Other factors that can contribute to spider veins include:

• Blood clots or any obstruction to blood flow in the veins
• Hormonal changes
• Weight gain
• Pregnancy
• Trauma to the area or repeated impact, as with running

Treatment

If you experience unpleasant symptoms or are concerned about the appearance of spider veins, your doctor can treat them with a number of options.

• Sclerotherapy involves the injection of a solution that hardens and closes the veins, redirecting blood through healthier veins. The same vein may need to be treated more than once, but treated veins usually fade after a few weeks.

• Laser surgery involves using strong bursts of light to destroy the veins. This procedure is usually less effective than sclerotherapy and may have side effects such as redness and swelling in the treated area.

For spider veins that appear in the face, intense pulsed light treatment or photofacial treatment can improve the appearance of the skin.