Varicose and spider veins: Causes, Treatments and Prevention

Health & fitness | 7 May, 2013 |

Year after year, women become increasingly concerned about their aging appearance. From correcting wrinkles to shaving off a little extra weight here and there, people often find ways to make themselves look and feel better.

Varicose and spider veins affect an estimated 30 to 60 percent of aging adults. Although these conditions are more commonly found among women, people of all ages and genders can see signs of varicose and spider veins.

Varicose veins usually appear on the legs and can be seen through the skin as swollen, twisted and raised blood vessels. Spider veins are smaller vessels found on the face and legs that appear red, blue or black in color.

What causes these unsightly veins?

Dr. Nick Morrison of Morrison Vein Institute, says, “The actual cause of varicose veins is inefficient, faulty vein valves. These valves don’t close properly, allowing blood to leak back with gravity and pool in the leg veins.”

These faulty vein valves develop over time and can be due to increasing age, hormonal changes, obesity and occupations requiring long hours of standing, among other reasons.

Dr. Adalberto Gonzalez from Scottsdale Vein Center explains that facial spider veins are most often caused by environmental factors, because our face is most exposed to the sun, and alcohol use.

Along with the bruised appearance of these blocked valves, varicose veins can cause quite a bit of discomfort for some people. Morrison explains that the shut valves, “causes the veins to bulge and stretch and results in many unpleasant side effects such as aching and throbbing pain, heavy and tired legs, and poor circulation.”

According to Gonzales, it is possible for varicose veins to increase in discomfort, cause heavy discoloration and potentially rupture if not treated. Although not all will reach this breaking point, many patients choose to remove the unsightly veins for various reasons.

How do I get rid of the fault lines in my legs?

There are generally two groups of people who seek treatment for varicose veins, Dr. Richard Jacoby with Valley Foot Surgeons in Scottsdale explains, “One with a medical necessity and one needing cosmetic enhancement.”

According to Dr. W. Patrick Davey of Dermatique, “Sclerotherapy, laser and endovenous ablation are methods to treat veins depending on the location and size of the veins. Laser treatment using ultrasonic guidance is effective in closing larger, deeper veins. Occasionally, lasers are used on the skin’s surface following sclerotherapy to treat tiny blood vessels that are either too small for sclerotherapy or that have failed to respond to previous injections.”

Everyone is a candidate for sclerotherapy, which is the most commonly used treatment for varicose and spider veins, says Gonzalez. His only caution is for women who are currently pregnant or those planning to have more children to wait until their childbearing days are done in order to seek treatment.

Gonzalez advises that “results vary depending on the severity.” It is important to note that treatments may require more than one visit and touchups down the road in order to maintain an individual’s cosmetic standard. With that said, 85 to 90 percent of his patients see significant improvement.

Just about all of the treatments for varicose and spider veins, whether invasive or noninvasive, are outpatient procedures. The cost of each procedure varies based on the severity of the vein treatment and can range anywhere from $300 to $4,000.

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