spider veinsWhile many patients at Premier Vein Clinics in Knoxville seek relief from painful, bulging varicose veins in their legs, it’s also common for people to ask, “What’s this thinner purplish cluster of veins on my legs?”

Generally red or purple-blue in appearance, these dilated veins near the surface of the skin are called spider veins, since they twist and turn somewhat like the shape of a spider web. Spider veins are harmless, but they generally spread and become more visible with age.

Spider veins are sometimes confused with varicose veins, and while it’s not uncommon to have both, varicose and spider veins are two distinct conditions. Spider veins are most commonly found on the legs and face, and are the result of dilated veins. Varicose veins result when one-way valves in the veins of the leg weaken and fail to keep the blood flow moving upward towards the heart. Blood pools in the bottom of the veins, causing swelling, heaviness, fatigue, or pain.

Spider Veins And The Sun

Too much time out in the sun without protection from sunscreen can increase the risk of spider veins developing on the face and legs. The sun weakens the epidermis, or top layer, of the skin, deleting moisture and diminishing elasticity. If your skin is dehydrated and lacking elasticity, it can cause the veins near the surface to constrict, preventing normal blood flow. If the blood then pools and causes the veins to dilate, a spider vein may form.

While not always preventable, there are steps you can take to reduce your chance of developing spider veins starting with protecting yourself from the sun. Sunscreen should be a part of your daily routine no matter the season, but especially on days when you spend more time outdoors. Using a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and focusing on coverage for the nose, face, and legs should be your first line of defense against the sun. Be sure to reapply sunscreen regularly if you are swimming, or playing sports.

Spider veins are not dangerous, but they’re not attractive either. If you are embarrassed by your spider veins or are limiting your lifestyle because of their appearance, know that there are painless, in-office treatments available to get rid of them.

Sclerotherapy is an in-office, minimally invasive procedure in which abnormal small and large spider veins are injected with a solution that causes them to swell, collapse and fade away over time. The procedure is relatively painless, can be performed in under an hour, and requires no pain medication or surgery. Sclerotherapy is quite effective in eliminating most visible spider veins.

There are many options for the treatment of spider and varicose veins and your best option depends on the severity of your condition, and your desired outcomes. The most important aspect to consider is that you don’t need to put up with prolonged discomfort from spider or varicose veins. Schedule a consultation with one of the local board certified vascular surgeons at Premier Vein Clinics in Knoxville to discuss your options for keeping your legs healthy and free of spider and varicose veins.