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SPIDER VEINS

Varicose Veins :: Travellers Clots DVT
Spider Veins :: Superficial Thromboplebitis

Spider veins are similar to varicose veins, but they are smaller, are often red or blue in color, and are closer to the surface of the skin than varicose veins. They can look like a tree branch or spider web with their short jagged lines. Spider veins can be found on both the legs and the face. They can cover either a very small or very large area of skin.

Physiology

The heart pumps blood to supply oxygen and nutrients to all parts of the body. Arteries carry blood from the heart towards the body parts, while veins carry blood from the body parts back to the heart. As the blood is pumped back to the heart, veins act as one-way valves to prevent the blood from flowing backwards. If the one-way valve becomes weak, some of the blood can leak back into the vein, collect there, and then become congested or clogged. This congestion will cause the vein to abnormally enlarge. These enlarged veins can be either varicose veins or spider veins.

Causes

No one knows the exact cause of spider and varicose veins, but there are several factors that cause a person to be more likely to develop them.

  • Heredity, or being born with weak vein valves, is the greatest factor.
  • Hormones also play a role. The hormonal changes that occur during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, as well as taking estrogen, progesterone, and birth control pills can cause a woman to develop varicose veins or spider veins. During pregnancy, besides the increases in hormone levels, there also is a great increase in the volume of blood in the body that can cause veins to enlarge. The enlarged uterus also puts more pressure on the veins. (Within 3 months after delivery, varicose veins usually improve. However, more abnormal veins are likely to develop and remain after additional pregnancies.)

Other factors that weaken vein valves and that may cause varicose or spider veins include aging, obesity, leg injury, and prolonged standing, such as for long hours on the job. Spider veins on the cheeks or nose of a fair-skinned person may occur from sun exposure.

Treatment

Besides a physical examination, your doctor can take x-rays or ultrasound pictures of the vein to assess the cause and severity of the problem. Some available treatments or surgeries include:

  • Sclerotherapy -
    Of all available treatments, this one is most commonly used for both spider veins and varicose veins. It involves injecting a solution into the vein that causes the lining of the vein walls to swell, stick together, and eventually seal shut. The flow of blood is stopped and the vein turns into scar tissue. In a few weeks, the vein should fade. Although the same vein may need to be injected with the solution more than once, sclerotherapy is very effective if done correctly. The American Academy of Dermatology states that most patients can expect a 50% to 90% improvement. Also, a new and improved type of sclerotherapy called microsclerotherapy uses improved solutions and injection techniques that increase the success rate for removal of spider veins. Sclerotherapy does not require anaesthesia, and can be done in the doctor's office.
     
  • Electrodesiccation - This treatment is similar to sclerotherapy except the veins are sealed off with an electrical current instead of the injection of solution. This treatment may leave scars.
     
  • Laser surgery –

Can varicose and spider veins return even after treatment?

Current treatments for varicose veins and spider veins have very high success rates. Although it is uncommon, these veins can return after treatment. One reason may be hidden areas in the body where there is a lot of pressure on the veins. This pressure may cause new spider veins. Doctors can diagnose this with ultrasound. Another cause may be new re-growth of vein branches. Doctors have found that tiny vein branches can grow through scar tissue to connect to both deep and superficial veins even after surgery.

 

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