People often wonder if problems like spider veins are inherited. Studies do indicate that, in about 90% of cases, a person with spider veins also has at least one family member with the same condition. Still, we shouldn’t look at this form of venous insufficiency as inevitable. There are several factors that can contribute to their development. We’ll discuss them here.
Spider veins are small damaged veins that look like purple, red, or blue squiggly lines on the skin. They get their name from the pattern they usually take, with multiple lines spreading from a local point of origin. Spider veins usually occur on the legs and ankles, but they can also form on the face. As a type of venous insufficiency, they are related to the poor function of tiny one-way valves in the veins. These valves allow small amounts of blood to move backward, causing the vein to swell and show discoloration. Spider veins are not lumpy and bumpy like varicose veins, and they do not cause the same degree of discomfort. In fact, they may not be uncomfortable at all. Their appearance, though, can cause self-consciousness or a sense of dissatisfaction. For this reason, it can help to know what risk factors you might have some control over and which you do not.
The older we get, the less collagen and elastin we have in the body. Collagen is a vital protein that provides structure and firmness to the skin and also to the veins. With less collagen, the valves that support blood flow through the veins may weaken. The backflow results in discoloration and visible veins. We may not be able to do much about collagen depletion as we age, but there is a way to help the veins in the legs function better. That is to maintain good calf strength. Some say that muscle strength inevitably weakens with age, but we can perform exercises like walking and calf raises to maintain optimal function over time.
Our hormones are chemical messengers involved in intricate biological processes. When we have too little, we may experience a certain set of problems. When levels of certain hormones become too high, we experience another. For example, studies have shown that elevated levels of estrogen can weaken the valves in the veins. Because of this, women who are pregnant or going through menopause may have a higher likelihood of developing venous insufficiency. The same may be true for women taking hormonal birth control.
In order for the blood to move upward out of the leg, the body must have relatively strong calf muscles. It doesn’t take much to build strength here. You can do it without ever stepping foot into a gym. Managing this lifestyle factor is as easy as taking a 30-minute walk every day, taking the stairs when possible, and moving the legs every hour or so. If you sit at a desk for many hours, take breaks to stand up, stretch, and walk a few steps around the office.
Venous insufficiency is more likely to affect people who are obese. However, any excess pressure on the body is excess pressure on the veins. Twenty or thirty pounds extra on the body’s frame is enough to increase the risk of venous insufficiency and the spider and varicose veins that go along with it.
Treating Spider Veins
We might do our best to prevent spider veins and still see them sprout up in time. If you are in this situation, we can help. Dr. Lee offers proven spider vein treatments in our comfortable Sherman Oaks office. Here, you can explore options like traditional sclerotherapy and laser vein treatment with a doctor who routinely performs both. Here, our goal is to treat spider veins quickly and as comfortably as possible. To schedule your visit, contact us at (818) 325-0400.