“Spider veins” occur when tiny veins congregate below the surface of the skin, causing red, blue or purple discolorations. Spider veins get their name from the shape of the discolorations.
They are most common on the thighs, ankles and calves, and are more common in women than men. Their cause isn’t completely understood in every case, but they can run in families. Some cases are related to pregnancy, use of birth control pills or weight gain.
Red or bluish-purple blood vessels appear, usually on the legs or thighs, but sometimes on the face, forearms or hands.
Because the causes aren’t completely understood, they can’t always be prevented. It’s helpful to maintain a healthy weight and stay physically fit.
If you have spider veins, you might help to avoid developing more of them by not standing still or crossing your legs for prolonged periods of time and by wearing support stockings.
Spider veins do not require treatment. In some people, support stockings may decrease the size of existing lesions and help to prevent new ones. The two most common cosmetic treatments are:
- Laser treatment
If you decide on cosmetic treatment for your spider veins, you can expect a 50% to 90% improvement. You may need several treatment sessions to achieve the desired result. After treatment, a slight discoloration of the skin may remain for weeks or even as long as a year before fading. In many cases, they disappear entirely, but they can return.