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Are Spider Veins Harmful?

spider veins

If you have spider veins, you’re in good company. Studies show that about 60% of Americans develop these unsightly veins during their lifetime. While spider veins can make anyone feel embarrassed or uncomfortable about their legs’ appearance, many of our patients wonder if these tiny veins are harmful. 

At Alate Health, board-certified radiologist Dr. Andrew Doe understands how self-conscious spider veins can make you feel. Our providers are experts at diagnosing and treating spider veins for patients in the Houston, Texas, area.  

We also know that any vein issue can raise questions about your health and potential complications. We’ve put together this informative guide to answer your questions about spider veins — including how they impact your health and the treatment options available.

What are spider veins?

The tiny capillaries that appear through the surface of your skin as spidery red, blue, or purple lines are called spider veins. You can develop spider veins almost anywhere on your body, but they most frequently appear on the legs, ankles, and feet. 

Like other veins in your legs, your capillaries have one-way valves to regulate blood flow and keep it moving in the right direction. When these one-way valves stop functioning, blood can get trapped inside the capillary, making it swell. Since these veins are just under the surface of your skin, they show through as unsightly lines we call spider veins. 

Why do I have spider veins?

Medical researchers are still trying to understand why some people get spider veins, and some don’t. However, researchers know that these troublesome tiny veins are associated with different risk factors, including: 

Having a history of blood clots or experiencing trauma to your leg, ankle, or foot can also trigger spider veins’ development.  

You try to prevent spider veins with lifestyle measures, like wearing sunscreen, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and taking care to elevate and move your legs during the day. But despite preventive steps, some people still develop spider veins. 

Are spider veins harmful?

While spider veins aren’t harmful, they’re typically signs of an underlying condition called chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). About 40% of American adults have been diagnosed with this vascular condition, and every year about 150,000 more are diagnosed.  

CVI is the result of broken one-way valves in the veins in your legs. Spider veins alone don’t usually cause symptoms, but CVI can trigger uncomfortable symptoms, including:

If left untreated, spider veins may worsen in appearance and even begin to bulge through your skin. Since spider veins are often a sign of CVI, you may begin to experience CVI symptoms without treatment. 

How are spider veins treated?

Your vein doctors at Alate Health consider your medical history and current symptoms before creating a customized treatment plan for your spider veins. Our spider vein treatments include sclerotherapy and endovenous ablation, two fast and easy therapies that help eradicate problematic veins! 

About sclerotherapy

During sclerotherapy, your Alate Health provider injects a chemical solution into the targeted veins. The solution irritates the veins, causing them to collapse. Your body re-routes the blood to healthy veins in the surrounding area, and over time your natural healing processes remove the treated veins with other cellular waste.

About endovenous ablation

With endovenous ablation, your Alate Health provider uses heat energy to seal problematic veins, causing them to collapse. While the procedure is relatively painless, we offer twilight sedation to help you stay relaxed and calm during treatment. 

Your vein doctor then inserts a small catheter into the problematic vein and applies laser or radiofrequency energy to trigger their collapse. Over time, your body removes the destroyed spider veins along with other cellular waste products. 

Recovery from both treatments is fast, and most of our patients return to their regular activities the same day or the next day. 

If you’re ready to let your legs shine this spring and summer, contact the team at Alate Health in Houston to learn more about the available treatment options we offer! Schedule a consultation by calling 713-893-0650 or request an appointment online now!

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