Causes of Spider Veins

Spider veins, also referred to as telangiectasia, are a network of red, blue or purple lines that often resemble a spider’s web or tree branches. These vein networks usually appear on the lower legs, but they can also develop on the face, abdomen or thighs. Spider veins can occur for the same reason as larger varicose veins – a chronic condition known as venous insufficiency. However, there are additional reasons why spider veins may develop as well.

About Venous Insufficiency

Veins are responsible for pumping blood from various areas of the body to the heart. Tiny valves inside veins ensure blood continues to move in a single direction through the vessels. Over time, these valves can wear out or become damaged. This occurs most frequently in the veins of the lower legs, where valves have to work against gravity to push blood back up the legs to the heart.

When the valves do not work as efficiently, blood can pool in the lower veins, causing them to swell. This leads to the appearance of varicose and some spider veins. When venous insufficiency is the cause of spider veins, it may also cause some physical symptoms like heaviness or aching in the legs and swelling of the lower leg and foot. 

Other Spider Vein Causes

While venous insufficiency is a common cause of spider veins on the lower legs, there are other reasons why these networks might develop on areas like the face or abdomen. Some of those causes include:

  • Heredity
  • Weight gain
  • Hormonal fluctuations, particularly during pregnancy or menopause
  • Some medications, including oral contraceptives
  • Trauma to the skin
  • Sun damage

While it is impossible to prevent the development of spider veins completely, there are ways to lower your risk:

  • Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight
  • Limit your time spent in high heels
  • Avoid crossing your legs while sitting
  • Wear sunscreen consistently to prevent sun damage

Spider Vein Treatment

If you do end up with those red and blue networks, there are effective, minimally-invasive treatment options available. The two most popular spider vein treatments include injections of a special solution that causes veins to seal shut – a procedure known as sclerotherapy. Laser treatments can also penetrate the surface of the skin and seal veins closed without damaging surrounding veins, skin or tissue.

If you are unhappy with the appearance of your spider veins, help is available. Contact Physicians Clinic of Iowa Vein Center at (319) 247-3800 to learn more about how to get rid of your spider veins for good. 


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