Spider veins are those small ones visible on the skin surface. They can be red, blue or purple and are clustered on the legs — ankles, calves, or thighs. For the past ten or fifteen years, sclerotherapy has been a popular procedure for women to have them removed.
Medically, spider veins are known as telangiectasias. They might or might not look like a spider, radiating out from a central area. They often look like wiggly lines or have a branching pattern. They are not the same thing as varicose veins, which are larger and tend to be raised, and are more painful.
ypically, spider veins have been a female problem more than male. They do often appear during pregnancy although sometimes they disappear by themselves after childbirth. Most often they appear after about age 40, related to aging rather than childbirth. There is also a hereditary factor, and they can be caused by a sedentary lifestyle.
The American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery (AACS) did a survey and found that about 10,000 men had a spider vein treatment in 2007. In 2002 it was only 3,000. In many men, the spider veins may be camouflaged by hair growth. It isn’t certain whether men are increasingly seeking spider vein treatment for cosmetic reasons, or because of the dull ache that spider veins cause.
Sclerotherapy has been performed for over 150 years, more often in Europe than in the U.S. although it has become more popular here during the past ten or fifteen years. It is a simple procedure where a substance known as a sclerosant is injected into the veins to make them shrink.
The sclerosant also closes off the veins feeding into the spider veins, bringing blood to them. This makes it unlikely that the spider veins will recur. Several treatments are done, and compression stockings are worn for about two weeks afterwards. It helps if you take a walk every day, as this increases blood flow to the legs and promotes healing.
Spider veins are part of the general circulation system, but not essential to it. They appear more often in women, but are really a human problem, and fortunately for all of us, the treatments are effective.