With rising temperatures we can wear bikini, shorts and skirts again. Finally! But what a glance in the mirror usually makes hardly visible, on closer inspection we lose the desire for airy clothes: spider veins! These little red and blue veins that run along the calves, the backs of the knees or the ankles. What exactly are spider veins? And what can you do about it?, we asked Dr. Sabine Zenker, dermatologist from Munich.
In this article:
- What are spider veins?
- What is the difference between varicose veins and spider veins?
- What are the causes of spider veins?
- What to do against spider veins?
- What helps against spider veins on the face and nose?
- Spider veins on chest and back
- How do you prevent spider veins?
What are spider veins?
Spider veins are dilated, tiny veins that shine through the skin. “Like ramified trees, the veins branch out beneath our skin. If veins lying on the skin surface shine through as bluish or reddish, net-like lines due to weak connective tissue, for example, this is called spider veins”, says Dr. Sabine Zenker, dermatologist also from Munich. The small veins owe their name to their similarity to fine branches. Zenker: “Spider veins do not usually represent a health problem.
But they are visually all the more disturbing, many women find, and that is why many women have them removed.
What is the difference between varicose veins and spider veins?
“Varicose veins appear as tube-like elevations on the skin surface. They usually appear on the legs,” says Zenker.
About 20 percent of all adults, especially women, develop varicose veins during their lifetime. Zenker: “Varicose veins develop primarily as a result of a congenital weakness of the connective tissue. The walls of the veins also slacken over time. As a result, the venous valves can no longer close properly or seal the vessel under pressure. The blood sinks into the superficial veins, from where it should actually flow into the deep venous system.
The “blood congestion” causes the superficial vessels to dilate and deform.” Unlike spider veins, varicose veins require frequent treatment. In addition, this can generally result in an increased risk of thrombosis, for example, especially for smokers, pill-taking or during longer bus or plane journeys and during pregnancy. Those affected must wear support stockings or be treated differently in order to avoid any risk.
Here you will learn how to pull, sclerose and laser varicose veins Spider veins are red and blue veins that shine through the skin. The cause is often weak connective tissue © dimid_86 / Shutterstock.com
If you have a lot of spider veins, you should have a check-up to find out whether the cause might be deeper lying varicose veins: If they leak, they have to be treated first. If only the spider veins would be obliterated without the ‘leak’ to be recognized in a deep vein, the treatment of the superficial spider veins would not make much sense. Spider veins can be sclerosed, but the costs for this are seldom covered by health insurance.
What are the causes of spider veins?
There are a variety of causes for spider veins on the legs. Zenker: “One of the most common causes of spider veins is weak connective tissue, which is why veins under the skin shine through. But also the deeper lying, leaky varicose veins can favour spider veins.” Spider veins can also appear on the face, preferably on the nose and cheeks.
In addition to genetic causes, there are behavioural risk factors that support the development of spider veins in the legs.
1. spider veins due to too little sport
Anyone who moves a lot activates the muscle pump and tightens the tissue. Without sporting activity and with the appropriate predisposition, spider veins are more likely to develop.
2. spider veins caused by alcohol and smoking
The stimulants alcohol and nicotine can permanently damage the blood vessels. Nicotine makes the vessel walls more permeable. Excessive alcohol consumption often leads to vascular dilatation.
3. spider veins due to yoyo diets
Being overweight and weight fluctuations drain the connective tissue and vessels, both of which help to make the unsightly blue lines on the skin visible.
4. spider veins due to pregnancy
Due to the hormonal changes during pregnancy, the connective tissue relaxes, the vessels become wider and softer. Fluid can leak out more easily, collect in the tissue and cause spider veins due to the pressure.
5. spider veins due to thrombosis or broken leg
Zenker: “Even thromboses or a broken leg in the past can leave spider veins behind.”
What to do against spider veins?
1. spider veins can be medically obliterated
Spider veins can be obliterated or treated with a laser. “On the legs, I prefer sclerotherapy because I can look back on decades of good experience here. Also, sclerotherapy practically never leaves unsightly scars,” says Zenker. Sclerotherapy, or sclerosing, is a procedure in which a drug is used to induce an inflammatory reaction to close off the affected vein walls.
No vein therapy is done in one day. “Usually I take one leg of a patient one day, the other leg the next. Then the next treatment sessions follow after about 2 weeks or after healing. As a rule, several sessions are necessary, depending on the severity of the problem and the extent of or response to the therapy. The therapy is relatively painless and is usually well tolerated.
Immediately after sclerotherapy, external compression with bandages and compression stockings is very important in order to improve or guarantee the success of the treatment”. In addition, one should avoid the sun for several weeks, because UV -light could cause pigmentation disorders, i.e. brown discoloration.
2. spider veins can be obliterated with the laser
Alternatively, spider veins can be sclerosed with a laser. The treatment rarely leaves scars and causes no pain. Again, several sessions with the doctor are necessary and wearing compression stockings is important. Sometimes doctors combine both procedures.
As you can see, it takes some time until the legs are actually free of spider veins. Dermatologist Sabine Zenker advises you to check your legs around Christmas and then to draw up a treatment plan together with a trusted doctor, so that you will be finished with your therapy in May, when you want to show your legs again.
In our latitudes, it is not advisable to start treatment only in May: the risk of exposing your legs to sunlight too early and thus developing a pigmentation disorder is too great.
“One must always be aware that spider veins cannot be cured forever with one treatment,” says Dr. Sabine Zenker. But with the right, individual treatment plan, you can certainly get beautiful legs and keep the unpleasant veins ‘manage’ or in check. The costs are rarely covered (not even by private insurance companies). A treatment costs from 95 € upwards, as said before, you have to count with several treatments.
What helps against spider veins on the face and nose
Dilated vessels and ‘ruptured’ veins in the face, for example on the nose, are called telangiectasias. Treatment options here are Intense Pulsed Light (IPL ), laser or even the electrocautery. With e.g. IPL the burst veins are bombarded with bundled laser beams of different wavelengths ‘bombarded’. The red dye of the affected veins selectively absorbs this energy, thus sealing the affected vessel. The surrounding skin remains untouched.
The treatment is painless. Several treatments are also necessary here (about 3 at intervals of about 2 weeks). After the treatment, tiny wrinkles may form on the nose, which disappear almost unnoticed over time. Risk factors for these small veins on the nose are again the genetic disposition, but above all UV -light and smoking.
“As a general practitioner, I can only advise you to avoid as many noxious agents as possible and in any case to use effective UV -protection with at least sun protection factor 30,” says Zenker. The insurance companies do not usually cover the costs of these treatments either. Those who decide to do so at their own expense should reckon with about 450 € per treatment.
Spider veins on chest and back
“In the case of spider veins under the chest and on the back, for example, you should consult an internist,” advises Zenker. They diagnose the underlying disease. Spider veins in the back and under the breast can indicate diseases of the liver, for example, so they should be clarified medically.
Sport helps prevent spider veins © Kaspars Grinvalds / Shutterstock.com
How do you prevent spider veins?
Sport is ideal in the predisposition to spider veins. As the leg muscles are strengthened here, the blood from the veins is optimally pumped back to the heart without sinking into the periphery. Alternating showers also stimulate the blood flow. Thrombosis or compression stockings effectively relieve the vessels during longer bus or plane journeys. If you have a tendency to burst veins or couperose on your face or nose, you should avoid smoking and temperature stress, e.g.
in the sauna, and – very important – wear light protection all year round. Only gentle peelings should be applied.
Popular home remedies against spider veins are capsules and creams, e.g. with horse chestnut extract. The herbal active ingredient Aescin contained in them is said to strengthen the vein walls and increase blood circulation. Vine leaf extract for making compresses or infusions is said to stimulate the blood circulation.
Conclusion: “Check the condition of your legs early! If many unattractive spider veins appear which you want to get rid of, then make an appointment with your trusted dermatologist soon”, Sabine Zenker advises. Because: If it is too late in the year, then unsightly discolouration of the treated areas, which are aggravated by sunlight, is imminent.
If the blue veins are only slightly pronounced, you should consider accepting them and instead of turning them into OP to invest in a vacation.
Book a longer holiday in sunny climes just before the start of the shorts season: Spider veins are hardly noticeable in tanned legs. Alternative: Apply self-tanner!
Apply self-tanning lotion, that’s how it works’s!