Spider veins and varicose veins are often discussed in the same conversation. This can lead to a misconception that the terms could be used interchangeably. They can’t. Varicose veins are the bulging vessels that can cause leg cramps, burning, and other symptoms. Spider veins, on the other hand, are the small vessels that look like webs as they become visible beneath the skin. Here, we explore what causes these networks of red and blue veins, how they may relate to varicose veins, and what you can do about them.
What Causes Spider Veins and How They Are Linked to Varicose Veins
Spider veins, like varicose veins, are an indication of venous insufficiency. This problem occurs when valves in the veins stop working as well as they need to. The weakened state of these valves allows blood to regress rather than move fully forward back toward the heart. In addition to valve problems, spider veins may also be triggered by minor injuries to the skin, sun exposure, and hormones.
Many people wonder if spider veins will turn into varicose veins. They do not always, but they can. Furthermore, if spider veins are related to venous insufficiency in which blood vessel valves are impaired, there may be a greater risk of varicose vein development at some point.
On their own, spider veins are not considered a medical problem. However, a consultation with a vein specialist can help you understand your personal risks for future venous insufficiency in the form of varicose veins. This consultation is even more important if you have symptoms such as leg swelling, leg cramping, pain, or aching, restless legs, or a feeling of heaviness in the legs. These are all indications of hidden varicose veins.
Risk factors for both spider veins and varicose veins include:
- Obesity. Even if you have lost weight, you may still be at risk for venous insufficiency related to previous weight.
- Use of hormonal contraceptives such as birth control pills.
- Advancing age, varicose veins are commonly first found in women aged 35 or older.
- Men older than 65 years of age may also have an increased risk for venous insufficiency.
- Standing or sitting for long periods.
- Family history of blood clots or varicose veins.
Get Better Looking Legs with Proven Spider Vein Treatment
Undergoing an exam with Los Angeles vein specialist Dr. Lee can help you recognize your risks for future vein problems. In the best-case scenario, your consultation will reveal that your spider veins are only a minor problem that can be easily treated. To schedule your visit, call (818) 325-0400.