Sometimes, you may have noticed red and blue blood vessels visible through your skin. Have you been a bit worried or embarrassed about them? Have you wondered? They are called spider veins. Weak or damaged vein walls cause spider veins. Varicose veins can be twisted, red, blue, or skin-colored.
Here, we will discuss the causes and treatments of spider veins.
The causes of varicose veins
Varicose veins are a mild manifestation of venous reflux disease. They are small, tangled groups of blood vessels found just beneath the skin’s surface. The veins are slightly dilated and have the appearance of spider webs or branches, and are generally spread out around the legs and feet.
What are the risk factors of varicose veins?
Spider vein risk factors are similar to those associated with varicose veins, including advancing age, occupations requiring extended periods of standing, obesity, hormonal changes, and heredity factors (weak vessel walls).
People can also develop this condition due to prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays or weak vessel walls.
Considering the risk factors, some people will be more prone to this problem. For example, if you work as a surgeon, a nurse, or a teacher, the chances are high that you may suffer from spider veins.
Similarly, if there is a family history of weak vein valves, the probability of developing spider veins is also high. The same applies to hormonal changes, which mainly occur during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause.
The exact cause of spider veins is yet to be established. However, existing risk factors can be divided into two general sub-divisions, i.e., congenital causes and acquired causes.
Congenital causes are Maffucci’s syndrome, port-wine stain, and hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (also known as Osler-Weber-Rendu syndrome). The acquired causes include acne rosacea, chemotherapy, and lifestyle/occupation risk factors.
What symptoms are associated with varicose veins?
Spider veins are painful in some cases, generally accompanying cramping and aching. They are also closely linked to heaviness in the legs and burning, tingling, or throbbing sensations.
In addition, symptoms such as itching, swelling, and fatigue can also be experienced. This condition can establish phlebitis, large sores, and ulcers in advanced cases. However, spider veins are noticed by their appearance in most incidences.
Tests and Diagnosis of Varicose Veins
Doctors usually use non-invasive diagnostic tests to diagnose this condition. These tests are perfectly safe and painless, with no scalpels, needles, or medication needing to be involved. In addition, the entire procedure usually is very brief and generally won’t take more than an hour.
Doctors seek to answer three main things with these diagnostic tests.
Firstly, they seek to establish any evidence of deep vein blood clots. Secondly, they discover if the veins are functioning properly. Lastly, they test the Greater Saphenous Vein (GSV) to determine if it is working well or not.
A competent vein specialist will always undertake this exercise before treating your condition. Some of the procedures that you can expect include:
Color-flow Duplex Exam
This is used to evaluate the anatomy of the affected veins. It determines the direction of blood flow, openings, and blockages. This procedure is also essential in vein mapping (done for skin-deep problems).
Bi-directional Doppler Exam
This ultrasound exam is used to determine the speed of blood flow and whether it pauses during normal breathing. It also identifies whether your veins are working correctly.
Phew! Don’t let this complicated medical word intimidate you. Photo-plethysmography is a diagnostic procedure that determines the efficiency of your calf muscle pump.
Pressure Calf Exam
You’ll be asked to lie facing upwards with legs raised higher than your chest in performing this exam. This diagnostic procedure identifies vessel blockages.
After establishing the specific nature of your problem, the doctor will then recommend the best treatment for you. Here are several available options:
This is the most common spider vein treatment. The doctor injects a saline (salt solution) or chemical solution into the affected small and more significant veins. The answer damages the affected vessel walls, causing them to swell and seal shut. However, within several weeks the scar tissue will fade.
The sclerotherapy procedure takes approximately thirty minutes and has only mild side effects. And although the injection site may be a bit painful, the stinging sensation is usually gone within a few minutes.
Intense Pulsed Light and Laser Treatment
This treatment employs a specialized device that focuses laser energy on the damaged tissue. The procedure only takes twenty minutes and has minimal side effects.
Natural remedies can mean the difference between undergoing medical procedures or not and are valuable alongside medical treatment. Some of the recommended herbal remedies include:
Horse Chestnut Seed
Studies show that this seed helps to improve blood circulation in the legs, thus strengthening the veins and capillaries.
This herbal extract stimulates new capillary formation, thus strengthening the capillary walls.
This herb strengthens veins. Butcher’s broom root contains ruscogenen and neoruscogenin, which have been observed to have anti-inflammatory properties and cause vein contractions.
A very effective extract that addresses venous insufficiency, foot swelling, and water retention. It, therefore, provides an excellent solution to spider veins found on the legs.
Distilled Witch Hazel
This is directly applied to the affected areas using a cotton ball. Numerous clinical studies have shown that this extract can help strengthen blood vessels.
Caution: Do not start using any herbal remedies without consulting a qualified doctor for health safety purposes.
Varicose Veins (Spider Veins) prevention
Two of the most essential things regarding preventing spider veins are eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise. Eating a diet higher in fresh, raw fruits and vegetables than meat and convenience food is crucial, and if your job requires you to stand for a long time, you should regularly shift your body weight from one leg to another and stand evenly balanced.
To sum things up, the spider vein removal procedure is chosen according to several key factors. Finally, your doctor will determine the optimum treatment options based on the results obtained from the diagnostic tests. We hope that this article will provide all the necessary guidance you need in addressing this problem.