Spider veins. These little webs of discoloration are well-known to most women. At some point, they are likely to develop on the ankles, legs, or even the chest, cheeks, or nose. For the most part, spider veins have always been looked at as a cosmetic nuisance. They keep people from wearing shorts and skirts or make people feel uncomfortable when they do. Because these unattractive collections of veins are “only cosmetic,” many people may put off getting them treated. They don’t realize that there are also functional benefits of getting rid of spider veins.
Many people notice small webs of blue and purple veins just under their skin. This web-like appearance is what gives spider veins their name. Typically, these collections of veins are found on the feet, ankles, and legs. Wherever they appear, they can present cosmetic concerns. To date, scientific studies suggest that spider veins are nothing more than this. This could lead to misperceptions that no other symptoms may occur from these small, dysfunctional veins. We know better.
Lesser-known symptoms of spider veins include:
- Cramping, aching or throbbing
- Restless legs
Do these symptoms mean that spider veins have become varicose veins? No. And, in many cases, they may be barely noticed due to the small size of the affected veins. However, these symptoms can be unpleasant and they indicate even more reason to treat spider veins sooner rather than later.
Treating Spider Veins
Spider veins are tiny. They are visible because they sit right below the surface of the skin (so close that some people try to “pop” them with a needle. Don’t do this!). They do not go away on their own and they may worsen in terms of the size of the web they make. To date, the best way to eliminate spider veins is to undergo sclerotherapy with a licensed vein specialist. Sclerotherapy has been performed for many years. The procedure is conducted in the office and typically takes 30 to 45 minutes. Because a tiny needle is used to deliver medication to the affected veins, the procedure is virtually painless without the use of topical anesthetic. After treatment, patients may wear compression stockings when walking or standing for long periods to decrease the risk of more veins forming in the future.