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Spider Veins

Information And Treatment

Spider veins are small red, purple and blue blood vessels that are easily visible through the skin, often in networks that resemble spiderwebs or tree branches.

Unlike arteries that carry oxygen-rich blood pumped by the heart, veins don't have such a pump to move the blood. Instead, our veins have elastic vein walls and tiny, one-way valves that allow blood to flow back to the heart. The blood in our legs flow with the help of our calf muscles, which, through contracting and relaxing, counteract gravity and help squeeze deoxygenated blood back up to the heart.

When vein valves or walls grow weak, they are unable to keep blood flowing through the veins. Some blood may flow backwards and collect in the veins, causing the blood vessels to become dilated. Spier veins, which are most often found on the legs and face, are broken capillaries or small veins (no more than 2mm in diameter) that have become engorged with blood. They are usually no more than a visual nuisance, although if they grow larger, they can cause pain.

Genetics is a major cause of unsightly spider veins, although obesity and hormonal influences such as hormonal surges caused by pregnancy, puberty, menopause, or by birth control pills or postmenopausal hormonal replacement are also factors. Having an occupation that involves prolonged standing can also contribute to the development of spider veins.

Age range: Spider veins can occur at any age, but most frequently appear in women during their childbearing years and in people over the age of 50.

Interesting Facts

About 45 percent of men and 55 percent of women have spider or varicose veins.