What are spider veins?

Spider veins are red or blue little veins that run up and down the legs, resembling lines on a road map. Spider veins may be grouped into little star burst patterns, and may also fan out along the outside of the thigh or the inner aspect of the lower leg. Often they gather around the ankles or behind the knees. Spider veins can also be found on the face.

What causes spider veins?

A number of factors may contribute to the development of spider veins in the legs, including:

  • Gender: Spider veins are rarely seen in men.
  • Heredity: Having family members with vein problems increases your risk of developing spider veins.
  • Pregnancy: The hormonal changes associated with pregnancy can trigger the development of spider veins.
  • Occupations or activities that require prolonged sitting or standing
  • Sitting with the legs crossed for prolonged periods

How are spider veins treated?

Judging solely from advertisements, you might conclude that spider veins are quite easily treated. In fact, they can easily be treated—but sadly, not treated very well by some practitioners doing the advertising. Many physicians from a wide range of specialties, and some people who are not physicians, offer treatment for spider veins. Many medical spas attempt to treat these veins with various types of laser and light therapy. Other clinics offer limited sclerotherapy with a variety of agents. Unfortunately, many who have received either laser treatment or limited sclerotherapy discover that while many places may treat spider veins, not many treat them adequately.

The reason is simple: there is more to spider veins than what’s seen on the surface of the skin. Every spider vein is fed by a vein underneath the skin that can’t be seen. Treating the spider vein by itself, without treating the unseen vein underneath the skin, generally proves unsuccessful. It’s like cutting off a weed where it comes out of the ground while leaving behind the roots. In either case, the problem you were trying to eliminate, whether it be spider veins or weeds, returns! Inadequately treated spider veins can reoccur in as little as three months.

At Willamette Vein Centré we have been extremely successful in treating spider veins using three different sclerotherapy treatments. We treat incompetent perforator veins and deeper reticular veins with ultrasound guided sclerotherapy using a foamed sclerosant such as sodium tetradecyl sulfate or polidocanol. More superficial reticular veins are treated with a lesser concentration of foamed sclerosant. Spider veins are injected using special microgauge needles, glycerine, and sodium tetradecyl sulfate or polidocanol.