Spider veins are veins that have become dysfunctional and are no longer serving their purpose, that is, the vein is unable to effectively transport blood, but is instead collecting it. Treatments for spider veins are reasonably quick, painless, and are extremely effective.
The spider vein quick fix at home – it doesn’t exist
You may be wondering how to get rid of spider veins on the legs or face, searching for a quick treatment for spider veins. Treating spider veins is not as simple as a special cream or exercise – spider veins require a specialised treatment that can only be provided by a clinic and a trained doctor.
While spider veins themselves are not dangerous, a spider vein is a sign of other vascular activity. This means you’ll need to be examined to see what else may be going on. Here we explain why you have spider veins, and overview effective treatments for spider veins and varicose veins.
Understanding circulation to establish what’s normal and what’s not
Getting a basic rundown of how your circulation works can make it easier to understand why spider veins appear. You may remember from high school biology that your blood only goes in one direction through a vein or artery.
- Arteries carry oxygenated blood away from the heart to body tissues
- Veins carry deoxygenated blood towards the heart for a refill of oxygen
Here we are only discussing veins, but arteries are just bigger versions of veins, so the same generally applies.
Veins are like a map of one-way streets, leading to or from the heart. Veins have one-way valves on their walls, which stops the blood going backwards with gravity.
There are veins deep inside our bodies, and veins closer to the surface. The superficial veins nearest our skin drain into the deeper veins through a special network of junctions, like small streams into bigger rivers.
The venous system is designed to pump blood through your body, and once it’s delivered the oxygen and other goodies, get it out of there.
When a vein becomes weak, it stops functioning properly. A dysfunctional vein may collect and hold onto more blood than healthy veins, which causes the vein to bulge. This puts a strain on the vein’s valves, which will eventually start to fail. The vein is then described as being ‘incompetent’. That is, it can’t do its job properly.
Incompetent veins come in the same sizes and locations as healthy veins. The ones we can see are called spider veins, reticular veins, and varicose veins.
Veins vary by size and location:
- Spider veins are small and sit on the very outer of our body
- Reticular veins are larger, sitting slightly deeper under the skin’s surface
- Varicose veins are large, and when they become incompetent, can bulge above the skin
Spider veins, reticular veins and varicose veins are all the same thing
You cannot treat spider veins without addressing other existing incompetent veins, if you have any. This is because a varicose vein, for example, causes spider veins by not managing blood flow and pressure correctly. If you don’t treat the underlying varicose vein, you will just end up with more spider veins.
Dysfunctional veins will not always be visible, which is why having a thorough examination is so important – spider veins can be a sign of a deeper circulation problem. Symptoms of deeper dysfunctional veins may appear, such as feelings of heaviness in the legs, or aching, burning, throbbing, cramping and restless legs.
Diagnostic procedures to determine the state of your veins, such as ultrasounds, are non-invasive and are done at ENRICH Clinic.
Why does a vein become incompetent?
It is still a bit of mystery why a vein may stop working properly. We do know that circulation problems tend to run in families, so if your relatives have varicose or spider veins, it’s likely that you will too.
What we know about who gets spider and varicose veins
- Women are more likely to have varicose veins at an earlier age than men
- Around a third of all men and women are affected
- Hormonal fluctuations in women may worsen varicose veins (puberty, pregnancy, menopause, birth control pills)
- Pregnancy directly contributes to varicose veins by increasing blood volume and downward pressure of the growing foetus
- Risks increase as we get older, if we stand a lot, are obese, don’t move around much, or have had a previous leg injury or thrombosis
But aren’t these veins important for circulation?
These incompetent veins put a lot of pressure on other surrounding veins because they aren’t doing their bit in your system. It’s like having a lazy co-worker – you end up doing more of the work, causing you more stress and wearing you out faster.
Firing the lazy co-worker means the rest of the team can take on the load more evenly, and the system starts working more efficiently again: circulation improves.
Spider veins do not serve you, and many people feel they are unsightly. This means there is no reason to keep them sticking around, whether you care about how they look or not. Spider veins aren’t healthy veins.
Can a varicose or spider vein heal by itself?
Your body has an incredible ability to heal itself, and in some cases varicose veins may go away by themselves instead of being removed. A varicose vein that appears during pregnancy is a good example of this. It is well known that after about three months post-pregnancy, the varicose veins tend to disappear.
But, this doesn’t mean the vein wasn’t damaged from its traumatic time under such pressure. It is also well observed that future pregnancies make varicose veins worse, and they may not disappear from view next time.
This process indicates that once a vein ‘goes’, it is a slow deterioration that appears to be irreversible. When you can see a varicose or spider vein, it’s because it’s too late for your body to heal it by itself. That time has passed.
Your body is repairing itself all the time, so you can rest assured that your body is doing its best to take care of all your other veins. You can help by taking some of these incompetent veins out of commission, allowing the rest of your circulation to do its important work without a lazy co-worker.
It also pays to have a healthy lifestyle, to care for your circulatory system and protect your veins.
How to remove spider veins and varicose veins
Early removal of spider veins and varicose veins is preferable for many reasons: it’s easier to remove smaller varicose veins, being less complicated with good outcomes. Late diagnosis and treatment for spider veins means a greater risk of complications and possibly irreversible disease.
If you are planning on becoming pregnant and have varicose veins, it’s advisable to have the varicose veins removed first – they will get worse during pregnancy. This means the vein becoming less and less able to cope under the strain of daily life.
Spider veins should only be removed after varicose veins have been successfully treated.
At ENRICH Clinic, we have effective treatments for spider veins and varicose veins using the latest technology and techniques. We do not treat varicose veins at ENRICH Clinic however we do provide a referral to a specialist if required.
Spider vein treatments – sclerotherapy
Sclerotherapy is a treatment for spider veins or varicose veins whereby a special liquid is injected into an abnormal vein. The vein doesn’t like this liquid, gets inflamed, fusing together, which results in the vein being unable to contain blood.
The injured vein is then reabsorbed by the body and disappears over several months. A vein may need more than one sclerotherapy removal treatments to fully collapse and disappear.
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