Sometimes, you may have noticed red and blue blood vessels visible through your skin. Did you become slightly embarrassed or worried about them? Do you wonder what they are? They are known as spider veins. Here, we will discuss the causes and treatments of spider vein.
What causes spider veins?
Spider veins are a mild manifestation of venous reflux disease. This means a small, tangled groups of blood vessels that are found just beneath the skin’s surface. These dilated veins resemble tree spider webs or branches, and generally spread out on the legs and feet.
What are the risk factors?
Spider vein risk factors are similar to those associated with varicose veins, and include older age, occupations requiring extended periods of standing, obesity, heredity factors and hormonal changes. One can also suffer from spider veins due to prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays or as a result of weak vessel walls.
From the risk factors, it is clear that some people are prone to this problem than others. For example, if you work as a surgeon, a nurse or a teacher, chances are high that you could experience spider veins. Similarly, for people with a family history of weak vein valves, the probability of developing spider veins is also high. The same applies to hormonal changes, which generally occur during puberty, pregnancy and menopause.
The exact cause of spider veins is yet to be established. The existing risk factors can be divided into two general sub-divisions, i.e. acquired causes and congenital. In congenital causes, we have Maffucci’s syndrom, port-wine stain and hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (also known as osler-weber-rendu syndrome), among others. The acquired causes include acne rosacea, chemotherapy and lifestyle/occupation risk factors (as mentioned above).
Spider vein symptoms
Spider veins are painful in some cases, with cramping and aching. They often result in a feeling of heaviness in the legs, and burning, throbbing or tingling sensations. In addition, symptoms such as itching, fatigue and swelling can also be experienced. In advanced cases, this condition can develop large sores, phlebitis and ulcers. However, spider veins are noticed by their appearance in a majority of incidences.
Tests and Diagnosis
Doctors normally use non-invasive diagnostic tests to diagnose this condition. These tests are perfectly safe and painless, with no needles, scalpels or medication needing to be involved. The entire procedure is normally very brief, and probably won’t take you more than an hour from start to finish.
There are three main questions that doctors seek to answer with these diagnostic tests. First, they are seeking to establish any evidence of deep vein blood clots. Secondly, they discover whether the veins are functioning properly. And lastly, they test the Greater Saphenous Vein (GSV) to determine whether it is working well or not.
Any competent vein specialist will always undertake this exercise before treating your condition. Some of the procedures that you can expect include:
*Color-flow Duplex Exam – This is used to evaluate the anatomy of the affected veins. It determines the direction of blood flow, openings and blockages. This procedure is also important in the process of vein mapping (needed for skin deep problems).
*Bi-directional Doppler Exam – This is an ultrasound exam used to determine the speed of blood flow and whether it pauses during normal breathing. It also seeks to identify whether your veins are working properly.
*Photoplethysmography – Phew! Don’t let this complicated medical word intimidate you. Photoplethysmography is basically a diagnostic procedure that is used to determine the efficiency of your calf muscle pump.
*Pressure Calf Exam – In performing this exam, you’ll be asked to lie facing upwards with your legs lifted above your chest. This diagnostic procedure identifies vessel blockages.
After establishing the nature of your problem, the doctor will then recommend the best treatment for you. Here are several available options:
Sclerotherapy involves the doctor injecting a saline solution into the affected veins. This solution then damages the affected vessel walls, causing them to swell and seal shut. Eventually the scar tissue will fade. The entire sclerotherapy procedure takes about thirty minutes, and has only mild side-effects. Though the injection may be a bit painful, the stinging sensation is usually gone within a few minutes.
Laser & Intense Pulsed Light
This treatment option employs the use of a specialized device that focuses laser energy to the affected tissue. The whole procedure will just take 20 minutes, and has minimal side-effects.
Using natural remedies can mean the difference between undergoing medical procedures or not, and are valuable alongside medical treatment. Some of the recommended herbal remedies include:
*Horse Chestnut Seed – Studies show that this seed improves blood circulation in the legs thus strengthening the veins and capillaries.
*Bilberry Extract – This herbal extract stimulates new capillary formation thus strengthening the capillary walls.
*Butchers Broom – This herb strengthens veins.
*Gotu Kola – A very effective extract in addressing venous insufficiency, foot swelling and water retention. It therefore provides a good solution to spider veins found on the legs.
*Distilled Witch Hazel – This is directly applied on the affected areas using a cotton ball. Numerous clinical studies have shown that this extract can help strengthen blood vessels.
Caution: For health safety purposes, do not start using any herbal remedies without consulting a qualified doctor.
Spider veins prevention
Two of the most important things regarding the prevention of spider veins are eating well and getting regular exercise. Eating a diet higher in fresh, raw fruits and vegetables than meat and convenience food is crucial, and if your job requires you to stand for a long time, you should regularly shift your body weight from one leg to another as well as standing evenly balanced.
To sum things up, the procedure of a spider vein removal is chosen by several key factors. Your doctor will choose the optimum treatment options based on the results obtained from the diagnostic tests. We hope that this article will provide all the necessary guidance you need in addressing this problem.