If you want to impress your friends with your knowledge of medicine and ancient Greek, tell them that you have “telangiectasias” or “a stretching out of the endmost part of a blood vessel” ( Michael Law MD). The red and purple lines that will burst out on your face, neck, and legs may point to much more serious health concerns, such as unhealthy weight gain, hormone imbalances, high stress, and physical strain. Plus, it’s much more difficult to cover up sunbursts of swollen blood vessels that appear on the face and chest.
For those looking for at-home or cosmetic cures to unsightly spider veins, there are a handful of options worth-considering, ranging from salves to laser that shrink your veins (Healthy Women).
Why Spider Veins Pop Up
If you have itching, breaking skin, or vibrantly blue, red, or purple veins on your face, you are likely to have spider veins. Medical professionals are not entirely sure of what causes us to develop this condition, but research has pointed that it may be due largely to hormonal and hereditary factors. Families who have a history of having ruddy complexions or rosacea have shown correlations to spider veins, due to their skin’s inherent sensitivity to sun and light (Michael Law MD).
Pregnancy, liver cirrhosis, menopause and puberty may give you telangiectasias. Regular physical strain, obesity, and application of topical steroids won’t do you any favors either (Gulcoast Cardiothoratic and Vascular Surgeons). What most of these share in common is that they stress and dilate your blood vessels. When you veins are under duress, their walls are stretched so far that blood cannot be pushed back up towards the heart (they move already circulated blood back to the heart). When these veins cannot circulate blood properly, they become backlogged and swell closer to the skin — hence, the brightly colored spider veins (Healthy Women).
Treatment Option #1: Sclerotherapy
Sclerotherapy is currently most popular treatment option for unsightly spider veins. Here, your doctor will inject the veins with a fluid that will make them narrow and close, making your blood navigate into healthier veins. Depending on the severity, you may need to get this treatment done over a few weeks time, but it is relatively painless — it can be done in your dermatologist’s office, sans any anesthesia, and patients typically only have mild skin discoloration and swelling. (Dr Lawrence E. Gibson – The Mayo Clinic).
Additionally, sclerothereapy can be used on any skin type (older, young, dry, sensitive) with very high success rates, with 50-90 percent efficacy for each individual. Spider veins very rarely will reappear after treatment, though new, different spider veins may appear. Each individual’s success rate is determined by their health, severity of the spider veins, and how many treatments are given (Dermatology Consultants). Less than 10 percent of patients reported no improvement from sclerotherapy treatments(RadiologyInfo.org)
Treatment Option # 2: Laser Surgery
This treatment is relatively popular in the field, though it’s not as successful as scleotherapy. Here strong gusts of light will be sent through the veins until they slowly fade; though there are instances where new spider veins will show themselves a few months after treatment. Laser surgery is good for those who adverse to needles or traditional invasive surgeries, though this option can frequently cause skin to blister and scar, bruise, and become irritated (The Mayo Clinic). Most patients will need two to five sessions to fade their spider veins, and even then laser surgery is only useful for those whose veins are less than a tenth of an inch wide and of certain skin types (Women’s Health).
Treatment Option #3: Radiofrequency Ablation
Radiofrequency Ablation is an invasive, albeit, and effective alternative to sclerotherapy. Here your doctor will put you under anesthesia and insert a small catheter into your veins, shooting hot radiofrequency energy into the veins, causing the blood vessels’ walls to collapse and seal themselves so that blood will be redirected to healthier veins. This procedure should leave patients with minimal bruising, though if veins do not fully disappear or reappear patients may consider sclerotherapy. Radiofrequency ablation is typically used for severely enlarged, painful spider veins (Women’s Health). This can be used to treat larger veins, while sclerotherapy is most effective for smaller veins (RadiologyInfo.org).
Treatment Option #4: Herbal Remedies
If sending bursts of light or injecting fluid into your blood vessels makes you a little uneasy, you can alleviate pain and try to strengthen veins — thought this isn’t going to have the same effect as dermatological procedures. We weren’t able to find any studies that say that herbal treatments will actually help you eliminate spider veins; most just relieve pain and swelling temporarily.
Foods that contain much dietary fiber and Vitamins C and E, like whole grains and dark leafy greens contain nutrients that promote general vein development. Rutin is a bioflavinoid that will reduce swelling and pain that come alongside spider veins, and reinforce cell walls. Other bioflavonoids such as Oligomeric poranthocyandin compexes (OPC’s), found in blueberries, cranberries, and numerous other plants have been shown to reduce swelling and leaking in veins. However, taking Vitamin C along with some bioflavonoids may increase the risk of bleeding and blood pressure, so consult a doctor before seeking this treatment.
Also, a compress of witch hazel and yarrow can provide a temporary cooling effect to swelling and itching (University of Maryland Medical Center).
Some Things to Consider
When considering spider veins treatments, keep in mind that unless your veins are causing your considerable medical harm or are relatively small, your insurance probably will not cover the treatment. Also, though most of the treatments mentioned are usually very successful and painless, there are still some possible side effects, such as:
- Stinging at the injection site
- Brown/darkened spots on the skin – these may be the result of treated veins’ having an iron buildup
- Blood Vessel Inflammation
- Blood clotting/coagulation
- Ulcers – these might happen a few days after injections, when the solution enters into the areas surrounding the veins. If this happens, contact your doctor immediately.
- Bruising/Scarring/Skin Discoloring
- Allergic reactions to the solution
Spider veins are curable, with highly successful treatments rates across the board. Sclerotherapy remains the most popular and effective treatment in the field, though numerous laser surgeries are being developed to be as quick, painless, and effective as possible. While genetics are largely responsible in giving us spider veins, stress, weight, and hormonal imbalances do too. For the best results put more exercise into your weekly routine to relieve stress and improve circulation, look for foods and supplements that contains lots of fiber, Vitamins A and E, and rutin, and consult a doctor if your veins become painful or enlarged.