Are you suffering from concentrated veins on different parts of your body? Well, there can be many reasons behind it but the main reason might be that you are suffering from spider veins. Now you might be wondering what spider veins are, what are their signs and symptoms and how to get rid of them. This article has all the answers you are looking for.
Spider veins are a group of dilated veins which appear close to the skin surface and look like branches of trees in appearance. So, they can certainly harm you looks. They are either red or blue in color.
They mostly form on the face and legs; however, they can also appear in other places on your skin.
These veins are quite similar to varicose veins and there isn’t much difference between these two; these are also located together sometimes. Varicose veins are a bit swollen veins with pooled blood.
Spider veins are quite common in people over 50 years of age. They usually don’t have any symptoms but sometimes, can cause throbbing and restless legs. In some severe cases, they can cause blood clots and skin sores. But the good thing is that there are many treatments for this disease, which are both effective and safe.
How common are spider veins?
Spider veins are quite common and affect every three in ten adults. Usually, the women are more affected than men. The legs are the most affected parts because, during walking and standing, extra pressure is put on the veins of the lower body. However, the face is also affected by spider veins.
For most people, spider veins don’t pose quite a serious health problem. They get unpleasant but it doesn’t affect the circulation or create any long-term health problems. Most spider veins even don’t require treatment.
However, they can cause some serious complications in rare cases and then the treatment becomes mandatory.
Causes of spider veins
Spider veins can appear anywhere on a person’s face, but typically they occur on your face, around the nose and eyes.
The causes of spider veins on the face are sometimes a bit different from those on legs and other areas. They are quite harmless but are of serious cosmetic concern.
Spider veins can occur due to venous insufficiency in a person. The deficiency is usually caused by a back-flow of blood in veins and the pressure can cause damage to the vessel walls. Some medical causes of venous deficiency include obesity, inflammation, and high blood pressure.
At times, a non-medical condition can also lead to venous deficiency. Rubbing or washing the face too hard can, sometimes, also cause broken capillaries.
The free radicals are responsible for spider veins on the face, even more so than on the legs. Too much sun exposure can also lead to spider veins on the face, especially on the skin area under the eyes. Smoking can also damage the veins and arteries leading to premature aging, which makes the veins more prominent.
The capillary repair takes longer in people who don’t smoke. Second-hand smoke and pollution can also lead to the formation of spider veins.
Aging is another major cause of spider veins. Many credible sources claim to age to be the chief cause of spider veins. Aging makes the spider veins more noticeable.
In general, the smaller spider veins are red and the larger ones are bluish. The color of the spider veins appears from the repair capabilities of the veins. The broken capillaries in a younger skin remain reddish until it repairs. However, the aging capillaries can’t depend upon the larger veins to do the job for them.
Pregnancy is another major cause of spider veins. It increases the blood volume in the body but decreases the blood flow from the legs to the pelvis.
And in some cases, the blood flow to the face is also affected. As the fetus changes in the mother’s womb, it can lead to enlarged veins on the face.
Another problem is that these spider veins worsen during the later stages of pregnancy. Changes in hormones during pregnancy also play a major role.
Skin disorders, like rosacea, eczema, and other inflammatory diseases, can also cause spider veins. Any skin condition which causes irritation or prolonged dilation can put pressure on the veins and cause spider veins.
Certain lifestyle choices also contribute to the development of spider veins. Spider veins affect about 40 percent of the population and the high percentage is affected by the lifestyle choices because these choices affect how well the veins work, function and repair.
For example, stress, lack of exercise and insomnia can make you more prone to spider veins. On the other hand, exercise improves the overall health of face and skin.
Complications of spider veins
Most people with spider veins don’t develop any complications.
However, if you do, it will be several years before the first ones appear. Some major complications of spider veins are described below (1, 2).
Painful ulcers are formed from the spider veins on the skin, particularly near the ankles and eyes. Ulcers are usually caused by long-term pressure in these tissues, which causes increased pressure in the veins.
Sometimes, the veins close to the skin can burst, which leads to minor bleeding. But you should beware of bleeding because there is a high risk that it can happen again.
Chronic venous insufficiency
If the blood in your veins doesn’t flow properly, it can affect the way in which the skin changes nutrients, oxygen and waste products with blood. If the exchange is affected for a longer duration of time, it leads to venous inefficiency. This chronic venous inefficiency can sometimes lead to even bigger complications.
Signs and symptoms of spider veins
The most obvious symptoms of spider veins are their web-like appearance on the skin. These veins can be blue, red and purple in color.
Some major symptoms include:
Uncomfortable feeling in the legs
Itching around the vein
Restlessness in the whole body
You should see your doctor if:
Your veins cause you pain
You have sores or rashes on your skin
Your spider veins are bleeding
Your veins become warm on touching
Treatment of spider veins
The treatment for spider veins can be divided into two sections - the medical treatment and the natural treatment.
The details of each treatment are described below.
Due to the advancements in technology, there are a number of medical treatments for spider veins. Sclerotherapy, laser or intense light therapy and radiofrequency are some of the modern ways of treating spider veins.
There are also some other techniques but they have certain complications.
Overview of medical treatments for spider veins
Here are some medical treatments for spider veins.
Chemical sclerosis or sclerotherapy is the most widely used method for the treatment of spider veins on the face, legs and other areas of the body (3).
In the procedure, a sclerosing substance is injected into the abnormal vessel to produce endothelial destruction which is followed by a fibrotic cord and in the end, all vascular tissue layers are reabsorbed.
In most veins, a sclerosing detergent is agitated with air to form something similar to shaving foam.
A diagnostic evaluation is quite important before the treatment. Technical skill is quite essential for effective sclerotherapy due to many reasons.
Here is a video showing spider vein sclerotherapy:
The local treatment of the veins is unsuccessful if the high points of the reflux haven’t been treated.
Even when things appear to be normal and the initial treatments are successful, many recurrences are seen if the reflux exists in larger subsurface vessels.
Missing the diagnosis can cause many complications at times if the spider veins treated with high-pressure remain open.
Delivery to the subsurface feeding vessels which aren’t visible is performed under ultrasonographic guidance.
Missing the diagnosis of deep system disease can lead to many undesirable outcomes. The symptoms become worse if the underlying pathway is removed.
Missing the diagnosis of venous thrombosis can lead to fatal outcomes.
The unrecognized deep venous insufficiency can lead to the recurrence of the superficial disease.
The selection of correct sclerosant is quite important but it depends on the correct volume and the type and location of the disease, positioning of the patient, internal volume, and many other factors.
The minimum effective concentration and volume should be used because the sclerosant can pass through the deep system of veins where it can produce disastrous consequences.
The most common sclerosants used today are sodium tetradecyl sulfate and polidocanol.
Both of these are known as detergent sclerosants because they are inactive in dilute substances but are otherwise active when they form micelles.
They are preferred due to many reasons, including their low allergic reactions and other harmful side effects.
They are best delivered in the form of foam.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has labeled the approval of drugs mandatory, which is a concern for the physicians and patients in the United States.
Ethanolamine, sodium morrhuate and Sotradecol were all developed before the formation of FDA. These agents are available in the United States as grandfathered agents.
The newest one is Sotradecol which was cleared by FDA back in 2006. It is quite purified and contains no contaminants (5).
The above discussion clearly shows that sclerotherapy is a scientifically backed up treatment for Spider veins on the face. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) states that foam sclerotherapy should be considered as second-rate therapy.
The laser vein therapy is an easy and fast method to get rid of superficial veins. This therapy has been in use for over 30 years. Due to the advancement in technology, different lasers have been formed.
The laser typically uses a beam of light. For treatment of veins, the veins along with the pigment in the blood are targeted.
The laser heats the small affected veins and ultimately destroys it. The laser beam is quite focused and doesn’t harm the nearby skin tissues. The vein is reabsorbed by the body after four to six weeks and then disappears.
The most common laser used in the treatment of spider veins is Nd: YAG laser system. It is a handheld device along with a cooling device for minimizing the discomfort during therapy.
The laser actually pierces the skin and penetrates through the blood vessels. The heat from the vessel changes the blood inside the vessel causing it to collapse.
In a few weeks’ time, the vessel will disappear and the blood will be removed from the body by the nearby cells.
The new laser treatments allow the precise dose of energy without harming the nearby blood structures.
Laser therapy is quite easy to perform; however, it has its problems. The chief problem is that it is quite painful.
For most patients, the therapy is significantly painful than the 30-guage needles used for micro-sclerotherapy.
Some of the spider veins also have associated feeding vessels which must be treated by other means before being treated by laser therapy.
The successful treatment for facial spider veins was reported using a 980 – nm diode laser. No complications were reported in the case.
Intense pulsed light treatments
The intense pulsed light treatment is a device which emits a lot of different wavelengths of light and thus, can treat a large number of different skin tissues. The IPL was originally made to counter a number of skin issues, rather than only one target, which is the case with lasers.
An IPL can easily be used for treating the tiny blood vessels and facial redness. The lasers effectively treat the largely visible affected blood vessels; however, the IPL reduces the background redness. After the treatment, the skin becomes red for sometimes. But the great thing about this treatment is that you don’t need extra time off your daily activities.
The IPL treatment can be used in combination of laser therapy to treat spider veins and reduce redness and flushing. It can also lighten the brown spots on the skin.
The primary goal of the surgical therapy is to improve the venous circulation through the removal of major reflux pathways. Some common surgical procedures to get rid of large spider veins disease include the litigation of the junction with vein stripping, phlebectomy performed microincisions, and endovenous laser thermal ablation.
Endovenous laser therapy
Endovenous laser therapy is a thermal ablation technique using laser fiber inside the vein. Seldinger-over-the-wire-technique is commonly used for placing a long catheter along the entire length. A bare laser fiber is passed through the catheter from the tip of the catheter by about 2 cm. The overall position is confirmed by using laser guide light and ultrasonography.
Under the guidance of an ultrasound, a high volume material is injected around the vessel to be ablated. A lot of pressure is applied for collapsing the vein around the laser fiber and the laser is fired to cause an irreversible thermal endothelial damage. The laser can also be set for the continuous deliverance of energy. But in this case, the fiber and the catheter must be withdrawn at constant and slow rates at about 2 mm.
The best system for performing the endovenous laser therapy is using a 1320 nm-laser which uses an automatic pull-back mechanism.
Radiofrequency ablation is an ablation technique which uses a special RF catheter, to be placed inside the vein. The FDA cleared the first version back in 1999. The most recent version of the catheter was introduced in the market in 2007. Clinical evidence has also shown that radiofrequency ablation is quite beneficial in the treatment of both spider veins and varicose veins.
Now let us look at the method of radiofrequency ablation. A cut-down stab technique with simple needle puncture using over-the-wire technique is used to place the introducer sheath into truncal varix. A special catheter is then passed through the vein until the tip becomes just distant to the subterminal valve. The exact position of the tip is known through ultrasonography. Then large volumes of local anesthetic are injected to separate the vessel from the skin along its entire length.
In the past, metal fingers were used at the tip of RF catheter which were made in contact with the vessel endothelium. Contrary to this, in the new system, 7 cm of the tip is heated to about 120 degrees Celsius using the RF energy. Tissue heating takes place both in and around the vessel to be treated. The RF catheter is withdrawn about every 7 cm and the process is repeated many times along the vein to be treated.
The stab-avulsion technique allows the removal of short segments of reticular and varicose veins by using special hooks, designed for this purpose. This method is quite useful for treating residual clusters and the removal of non-truncal tributaries.
Although the procedure is done on the face, a person has to be in standing position to carefully mark all the locations of the refluxing vessels to be removed. The vessel locations are marked by a removable marker. The position of veins is confirmed using a vein illumination device because the position can change at times. The whole face is carefully prepared for the procedure. A micro-incision is made by the help of a large needle or a blade.
A hook is then introduced into the micro incision and the vein is passed through the incision. A traction is then used on the vein and a long segment is pulled out of the vein which tears the tributaries and other attachments. When the vein can’t break any further, another micro-incision is made and the whole process is repeated again.
These are just some of the wide range of medical treatments for facial spider veins. So you should get any of these treatments and get rid of spider veins right away.
Natural treatments of spider veins
In addition to medical treatments you may also try dealing with spider veins naturally. While there are very few studies confirming positive effects of these natural remedies for treatment of spider veins, they may provide you with some relief. However do not expect miracles and always ask your doctor for consent before you try these remedies.
These are 11 best natural treatment options for spider veins.
Apple cider vinegar
The use of apple cider vinegar is perhaps the most effective and easy remedy for spider veins. Apple cider vinegar diminishes the incidence of spider veins by increasing the blood circulation to that region.
How to use it?
To use apple cider vinegar for treating spider veins, you would require apple cider vinegar and a clean cloth.
Firstly, soak the cloth in apple cider vinegar. Then apply the cloth on the areas of the body where you have spider veins. Let it soak in for about 20 minutes and do this about two to three times for about one month. Continue doing this until your spider veins completely vanish.
Witch hazel is quite beneficial for curing spider veins. It has astringent properties in it which help in curing spider veins. Many credible sites approve the astringent properties of witch hazel and state that they are helpful for treating spider veins.
How to use it?
To use witch hazel for treating spider veins, you would require witch hazel and a cotton ball. First of all, dip the cotton ball in the witch hazel solution. Now apply the cotton ball on the affected areas of the body. Continue this procedure daily until you get rid of spider veins.
Horse chestnut seeds
Horse chestnuts seeds are rich in tannins and have good anti-inflammatory properties. They are quite helpful against the itching, swelling and pain associated with spider veins. Whey horse chestnuts can also strengthen the veins which lose their elasticity.
Horse chestnut seed remedy for spider veins
Many clinical studies have proved that they improve blood circulation and counter inflammation.
How to use it?
To use horse chestnut on the skin, you should mix them with hazel. Take about 12 tbsp of distilled hazel and add 1 tbsp of horse chestnut tincture to it. Now apply this mixture to the area affected with spider veins.
Bilberry is quite helpful for treating spider veins in a relatively short time period. They have been used for quite some time for treating diarrhea, throat inflammations, eye problems, poor blood circulation and diabetes. This unique property of bilberry comes quite in handy for treating spider veins.
It is also quite rich in tannins, flavonoids and phenolic acids. Its antioxidant properties protect it from vein damage due to free radicals. It also strengthens the blood vessels.
How to use it?
You should use just 30 mg of bilberry extra twice a day. Use the extract with 30 mg bilberry and about 25 percent of anthocyanidins. But don’t use it for more than six weeks. You should also avoid bilberry if you are using blood-thinning medications.
The popular herb Gingko biloba is quite helpful in strengthening the tissues of the vein walls. At times, sitting or standing for long periods of time can stretch your veins.
If you do this regularly, your vein walls can become seriously damaged and you might develop venous insufficiency.
Gingko biloba can help you relax the blood vessels and improve overall blood circulation. It also improves the tissue oxygenation along with improving the circulation of blood. So it is quite a beneficial remedy for the treatment of spider veins.
How to use it?
To use Gingko biloba for treating spider veins, get a gingko Biloba extract in 50:1 because it gives you the most medicinal value.
You should take about 120 to 140 mg of gingko Biloba, divided into three doses per day. Your starting dose should be 40 mg of Gingko biloba three times a day.
You should also consult a healthcare professional for a better understanding of individual requirements.
You can find this common herb in your kitchen to get rid of spider veins.
Ginger contains many bioactive components which are beneficial for the blood vessels. A protein called fibrin builds up in the areas where the vein gets injured.
This makes the veins more visible and prominent. Ginger breaks up fibrin which helps in diminishing the spider veins.
Ginger also lowers the blood pressure and low blood pressure exerts less pressure on your veins. It also has some blood-thinning properties which makes it easier for the heart to pump blood. But make sure you aren’t taking any blood pressure medications along with ginger because it can create some complications.
How to use it?
You can use ginger for the treatment of facial spider by drinking ginger tea. For this, you would require 1 inch of fresh ginger piece, a cup of hot water and 2 tbsp of honey.
First of all, crush the ginger and put it in a pot. Now pour hot water on it and cover and steep it for about 10 minutes.
If you don’t like chewing ginger, strain the liquid. Add honey for taste and drink the tea about 2 to 3 times daily.
Coconut and mustard oil
Oil massage is quite a popular remedy for facial spider veins for hundreds of years.
Massage is a good procedure to improve the blood circulation and a good flow of blood in your vessels assures that you won’t get spider veins anymore. The two essential oils used for curing spider veins are coconut and mustard oil.
Mustard oil is quite popular for strengthening the blood circulation and the valves. On the other hand, coconut oil enters the skin and mends capillaries. It can restore the original skin color.
How to use it?
For treating spider veins through coconut oil, you would require mustard or coconut oil. First of all, warm a little bit of oil.
Now take the warm oil in your palms and apply it to the affected area of spider veins. Now gently massage the area.
While performing the massage, keep the strokes towards the beating of your heart to improve blood circulation. Massage your face every day twice until you get rid of spider veins.
Gotu kola, which belongs to the parsley family, is a widely used for the treatment of varicose veins of the legs.
But it can also be effectively used for treating facial spider veins. Many studies have proved that Gotu kola help against swelling and improve the overall blood flow. Some studies have also proved that people who take Gotu kola have less leakage of blood which helps in treating the complications associated with spider veins.
Gotu kola can easily be found in the health stores in the form of tea, capsules, tablets and ointments.
How to use it?
Here are some ways of using Gotu kola to treat spider veins:
You can make Gotu kola tea by steeping its dried leaves in warm water. Have this about three times a day.
If you are using the powdered herb, take about 1000 to 4000 mg capsules 3 times a day. However, it’s best to consult an herbalist before taking this much amount. Herbalists can recommend the right dose for your specific condition.
You can also intake Gotu kola extract. Have about 50 to 250 mg of the extract about 3 times a day. The extract contains about 29 to 30% Asiatic acid, 40% asiaticoside, about 30% madecassic acid and 1 to 2% madecassoside. You should take about 180 to 200 mg of the extract daily, however, it’s best to consult a herbalist before that.
You can also take Gotu kola tincture. Have about 30 to 60 drops daily.
Butcher’s broom, a herb of the lily family, is considered as an effective anti-inflammatory agent. It can also cure weaker veins effectively.
The ruscogenins present in butcher’s broom are active compounds which improve the blood circulation and collagen production.
This helps in strengthening the weakened valves. Ruscogenin actually acts as a steroid and helps the body create its own steroid by creating venous resiliency. Ruscogenin also helps in smoothening the vein wall muscles which makes the spider veins less visible.
How to use it?
It is advisable to consult a herbalist before taking any herb, however, you should intake the recommended intake of 100 to 300 mg about 3 times a day in capsule form. You can decrease the dose once the spider veins start diminishing.
You should eat foods containing bioflavonoids to treat spider veins. Bioflavonoids have anti-inflammatory properties and thus keep your vein walls strong.
They also prevent free radicals from going into your vessels. There are two bioflavonoids for improving vascular health and making your veins strong. These are grape seed and proanthocyanidins. You should buy grape products because they will provide you with bioflavonoids needed to get rid of facial spider veins.
How to use it?
You should eat grapefruit on daily basis. You should also consider eating grape seed extract.
Limit sun exposure
If the spider veins are on your cheeks and nose, they won’t be that much problematic. So, you should treat them by restricting further damage.
The Department of Health and Human Services states that the condition on the face is mostly due to sun exposure.
So patients should wear sunscreen before going out daily and avoid going outside during the peak daylight hours.
Prevention of spider veins
Facial spider veins can be quite dangerous for everyone because they ruin the aesthetic beauty of the face.
The medical and natural treatments are helpful for spider veins but what if one could prevent facial spider veins in the first place. So, here are some measures to take to prevent spider veins.
The skin on the face is quite fragile. So it’s important to wear facial sunscreen. You should also avoid going outside during the daylight hours. The main reason behind this is that sunlight will only worsen your condition. So make sure you protect yourself from the sunlight a few minutes before you go out every time.
Keep on moving
Don’t just sit or stand at one place for a long period of time. The reason is that it would decrease the blood flow in your whole body, including your face, which would only worsen the facial spider veins.
So, if you have to sit for long periods of time, try standing up and moving here and there a bit to keep the blood flowing. Research also supports that walking is quite beneficial to increase the blood circulation in the stressed areas of the body.
Keep a healthy weight
An important part of preventing facial spider veins is keep a healthy body weight. You should follow a healthy diet plan and together with your doctor, work out a plan which is appropriate for your body type. A healthy body weight will reduce the extra stress on the blood vessels on the face.
Avoid salt and eat more fiber
Salt causes the body to retain water which swells the blood vessels and puts pressure on the veins. On the other hand, fiber prevents constipation and thus reduces the overall pressure in the body.
So you should avoid processed foods containing sodium, like prepackaged meals and snacks. You should also avoid excessive fruits, lean meats, whole grains, and vegetables because they all contain fiber. You should also minimize the use of salt in your diet.
Keep yourself well-informed
Keeping yourself well informed is also an important step in preventing spider veins. For example, one thing that you should keep in mind that spider veins are hereditary. If you have some relative who also has spider veins, the chances are that you would also get spider veins.
Another thing that you need to keep in mind is that pregnancy can also cause spider veins. But you shouldn’t worry about them because they fade quickly, once the baby is born. A sedentary lifestyle can also cause spider veins because it decreases the overall blood circulation.
Frequently asked questions about spider veins
Facial spider veins are more common than you think. That’s why more and more people are getting concerned about them.
Here are some FAQs about spider veins:
What are spider veins?
Spider veins are small and superficial veins which develop close to the skin surface. They mostly look like tree branches or spider webs. They are connected to the large venous system but aren’t an active part of it because they don’t carry blood to the heart. They can be found both on skin and face and cover small and large areas.
What are some main causes of spider veins?
Nobody knows the exact cause of spider veins but certain factors, like hereditary factors, increases the likelihood of spider veins. Oral contraceptives, sun exposure, and hormonal changes (like in pregnancy), can all contribute to their development. Spider veins may also be related to certain trauma on the skin.
How do the spider vein treatments work?
Photorejuvenation technologies deliver the exact dosages to the affected veins without causes harm to the healthy ones. The energy is absorbed by the affected veins which cause the thermal coagulation of the blood in the vessel.
Which is the best procedure for treating facial spider veins: Sclerotherapy or laser treatment?
Sclerotherapy has been performed for over 20 years and is considered a tried and tested treatment. The procedure involves a number of injections to destroy the spider veins. Laser treatment, on the other hand, doesn’t require any needles and is in fashion these days. However, laser therapy is expensive in comparison. So, laser therapy is quickly becoming the choice of the day.
Can any person undergo sclerotherapy?
Almost anyone can get his spider veins treated except nursing and pregnant women. Some contraindications, however, occur in those with skin infections, history of deep vein thrombosis, fever, uncontrolled diabetes, and the patients taking corticosteroid tablets. The Mayo Clinic warns of certain side effects, like air bubbles, allergic reactions, blood clot and inflammation.
What is the best time to get spider veins treated?
Spider veins have no symptoms and the only major problem is cosmetic. So, surgery is quite effective and can be done anytime. The only issue is that spider veins become quite prominent during pregnancy, so it’s best to wait until the pregnancy is over.
If I get treated once, will I get spider veins again?
Spider veins can develop during pregnancy, however, previously treated veins don’t recur. Spider veins can be removed but new ones can always form. So despite treatment, new spider veins can also recur in the coming years. So, there is no complete cure of spider veins.
Things to remember
You should by now know everything there is to know about spider veins on the face. These veins can occur on anyone’s face at any time of life and ruin the face. However, some major causes of spider veins are aging, pregnancy, contraceptives, and hormonal changes.
There are different treatments for spider veins but the two most popular ones are sclerotherapy and laser treatment. Both of the treatments are quite effective for treating spider veins but laser treatment is better in the sense that it involves a lesser degree of pain. But it is expensive too. Other than the medical treatments, there are also some natural treatments for spider veins, like using apple cider vinegar, Gotu kola, Gingko, bilberry, ginger and other herbs.
You should also try to prevent spider veins by adopting habits, like use sunscreen, walk, eat a healthy diet, eat more fiber and live an active lifestyle.
One thing is established by now and it is that spider veins are quite dangerous. They may look harmless on the surface but they ruin the beauty of the face. So you should get yourself treated quickly before you ruin your marriage or your love life.