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If you have enlarged, discolored or painful veins just below the skin on your legs, they might be spider or varicose veins. These veins aren’t harmful to your health in most cases, but many women want them removed for aesthetic reasons. Talk with your primary care physician about which vein treatment or removal options would best suit your needs and lifestyle.
Varicose Veins vs. Spider Veins
Spider veins, commonly found on the face and legs, are caused by the dilation of a small group of veins near the skin's surface. They often look like red or purple sunbursts or web patterns and are more common in women than men.
Varicose veins are swollen or enlarged veins caused by damage in the vein valves. Located deeper in the skin than spider veins, varicose veins may appear raised, bulging, or twisted, and may be blue or red.
Are Varicose Veins Dangerous?
Although varicose veins aren’t usually dangerous, they might be associated with the development of conditions like:
- Phlebitis, or inflammation of the vein
- Thromboses, which occurs when blood clots form in the enlarged vein
- Venous stasis ulcers,which occur when there’s a lack of drainage in the enlarged vein
If you’re worried that you have one of these conditions, it’s best to talk with a vascular care expert. Find a doctor near you who specializes in varicose vein treatment.
What Causes Varicose and Spider Veins?
Although the exact causes for varicose and spider veins are unknown, you might get these veins from:
- Advanced age
- Heavy lifting
- Hormonal changes
- Prolonged standing
Treatment for Varicose and Spider Veins
A surgical procedure is usually required to remove or treat these veins. You can have a varicose or spider vein treated in a surgeon’s office, outpatient surgery center, or in an outpatient or inpatient hospital setting. Depending on your needs, some anesthesia may be required, like general, local, epidural or spinal anesthesia.
If you’d like to have these veins treated, talk with your doctor or a vascular surgeon about:
- Compression therapy with special stockings that can help soothe varicose vein pain
- Ambulatory phlebectomy, which removes the vein through tiny punctures or incisions
- Electrodesiccation, which seals the veins with an electrical current
- Laser surgery and intense pulsed light therapy, which gets rid of abnormal veins with a high-intensity laser beam or intense pulsating light
- Surgical ligation and stripping, in which a surgeon makes an incision and removes or ties off the blood vessel in cases of severe varicose veins
Alternatively, many women also choose sclerotherapy to treat varicose or spider veins.
Sclerotherapy for Varicose or Spider Veins
With sclerotherapy, a concentrated saline solution is injected into the vein, where it breaks down the vein from the inside out. Over time, the varicose or spider vein will collapse and fade, and nearby blood vessels absorb the blood flow of the collapsed vein.
Potential Treatment Complications to Be Aware Of
Whether you choose sclerotherapy or a different treatment method, after your spider or varicose vein treatment, you might experience some complications like:
- Pigmentation changes, or brownish splotches that may take several months or a year to fade
- Allergic reactions and scarring, which may occur from an allergic reaction to the injected chemical solution or a skin injury
- Telangiectatic matting, which involves small, reddish blood vessels appearing near the treated area
- Blood clots in the veins
Love Your Legs With Whole-Hearted Vascular Care
Unsure of whether vein removal treatment is right for you? Want to find a vascular surgeon in your area? AdventHealth’s team of vascular experts can answer your questions about vein surgeries and offer you compassionate vascular care to help you feel healthy and confident.