Spider veinsIt’s no secret that we women care about our looks.  Vain maybe but that’s how girls are raised and yes the emphasis on having a youthful appearance by the media and the society at large puts even more pressure on us.

So I fully understand why my female patients would inquire about the causes and the solutions for what they see as unsightly spider veins even if my inclination would have been to brush off those concerns.

Before we discuss the solutions for this First World problem, how about taking the time to discuss the causes of varicose veins (spider veins);

5 common causes of spider veins

1. Gravity 

The arteries deliver oxygen to every part of the body via the bloodstream while the veins take back the oxygen-stripped blood back to the heart for oxygenation.

The veins in the legs have to counter the downward pull of gravity to do this and over time they falter which lead to those wormy discoloration that we call spider veins.

2. Age 

You probably took your first steps sometime around age one. The longer you have been upright, the longer your veins have had to work to resist the downward pull of gravity.

So the older you are the higher your propensity for developing spider or varicose veins.

3. Genetics 

Spider veins tend to run in families. If your mama has them look out, spider veins might be headed your way.

4. Medications 

Long-term steroid use both orally or as a cream could thin out the skin and could lead to spider veins. Birth control pills or hormonal pills use could also lead to spider vein formation.

5. Pregnancy 

My first crops of spider veins came with my first pregnancy. The combo of gravity and hormones were just too hard to overcome!

Now that you know the 5 most common causes of spider veins, how about taking on the more interesting piece; getting rid of them

Treatment Options for Your Spider (Varicose) Veins

We would be going over;

  • Pros of each treatment option
  • Cons of each treatment option
  • Which treatment option your health insurance would cover
  • Which treatment option is considered cosmetic (ie not covered by your health insurance)
  • Typical downtime for each treatment option

♦ You will also get the How to Select the Right Doctor for Your Elective Procedure cheat sheet.

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I just want to say that to the best of my knowledge, we don’t have a solution in a bottle yet. I sure hope someone, somewhere comes up with a cream or something. We gals will be beating a path to their doorstep for sure.

There are basically 4 treatment options and none is completely painless but then, no pain, no gain.

1. Sclerotherapy

This involves injecting a liquid usually highly concentrated salt and water to zap those veins. It’s an office procedure and the extent of the pain is the needle poking you. There’s no downtime for sclerotherapy. You can hop off the doctor’s couch and be on your way.

You could be lucky and have your health insurance cover the procedure but they typically would not.

2. Laser Treatment

This is also an office procedure.  It involves using thermal lasers to zap those spider veins. The pain is very minimal and the cosmetic results tend to beat the sclerotherapy option.

The catch here is the expense. Your health insurance will not pay for laser treatments as they tend to fall under the “cosmetic procedure” umbrella.

3. Vein Stripping

This is full-on surgery done by a vascular surgeon. Only reserved for the larger spider veins (varicose veins) that cause you pain. The troublesome vein is “stripped” out of the legs. I would not recommend it for pure cosmetic reasons.

You would need time off work and life to recover from the procedure.

4. Compression Stockings

I would not consider wearing compression stockings as a treatment option in the sense that they don’t get rid of the varicose veins that have already formed.

Compression stockings however help with limiting the pain and pressure you could feel from varicose veins and could potentially reduce your chance for developing new spider veins.

Compression stocking is also used after vein stripping surgery to reduce the chance of developing a blood clot within the deeper veins.

Are you considering treating your spider veins or have you done so already? Share your experience with us.

About the author

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Dr. Bola

Family physician. Works for the "man" by day, wife & mom 24/7.
Loves the work of translating "medicalese" to plain english.


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