Spider and varicose veins are a common problem among both men and women. Approximately 50 percent of women and 45 percent of men living in the US suffer from this type of vein problem. There are several treatment options available for both types of vein conditions.
Varicose veins are large, raised, swollen blood vessels that twist and turn. They usually develop in the legs and can be seen through the skin. Spider veins are smaller, red, purple, and blue vessels that also twist and turn.
Spider veins are easily visible through the skin as well. They are also most often seen on the legs and face. Spider veins are more common in women. Men do have spider veins, but often do not consider them to be a cosmetic problem because the veins are usually concealed by hair on the leg.
Varicose veins can be caused by weak or damaged valves in the veins. Veins return circulated blood back to the heart. If valves in the veins don’t work properly, all of the blood is not returned to the heart. Instead, some of the blood leaks back into the veins in the leg, causing vein enlargement.
Spider veins can occur due to the same reason, but may also form due to sun exposure, obesity, injuries or as a result of hormonal and other changes that occur during pregnancy, menopause, puberty or birth control pill use. The American Academy of Dermatology reports that varicose veins occur mainly due to a genetic susceptibility.
Patients with varicose veins complain of pain, described as an aching or cramping in the legs. Other common symptoms include tiredness, restlessness, burning, throbbing, tingling, or heaviness in the legs. Pain caused by varicose veins is usually relieved by elevating the legs or by wearing support hose.
In women, symptoms may be worse during certain parts of the menstrual cycle or during pregnancy. Patients also may develop swelling, ulcers (deep sores), and an increase in the pigmentation or darkening of the color of their skin, especially in the ankle region. Occasionally, varicose veins can form a painful blood clot with inflammation of the vein called thrombophlebitis.
Doctors use sclerotherapy to treat varicose and spider veins. During sclerotherapy treatment, your doctor injects the veins with a chemical or saline solution that causes the veins to collapse. The collapsed veins become scar tissue that is eventually absorbed by the body. Laser treatment can be helpful in treating and destroying small varicose veins and spider veins. If you’re varicose veins are deep, your doctor may recommend endovenous ablation, a procedure that entails using a laser beam or radio waves to close varicose veins.
Ligation and stripping are surgical procedures that some doctors will use to treat large varicose veins. During stripping, doctors tie off veins or remove the varicose veins from the legs. Ligation and stripping was once a common treatment for varicose veins, but now this procedure has been mostly replaced by laser and radio frequency ablation treatments.