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Spider veins — are they more than just scary?

Whether it’s Halloween around the corner or just swimsuit season, many women are scared to reveal their “spider veins.”

Lianne Marks, MD, PhD, FACP, an internist on the medical staff at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Round Rock said spider veins are more common in women than men, with a ratio of 4-to-1. They frequently start in young adulthood and get more common with age.

“Spider veins (also known as telangiectasias) are very small (≤1 mm) dilated veins found commonly in clusters on the surface of the skin,” Dr. Marks said. “They are most commonly located on the face, upper thigh, below the knee and around the ankles.”

Overcoming Embarrassment of Spider Veins

Spider veins are caused by increased pressure in the veins, and usually, have a red or blue appearance near the surface of the skin.

Spider veins are a cosmetic issue and may be a source of embarrassment for some. The good news is, however, spider veins very rarely cause symptoms.

“This is unlike larger varicose veins, which can be painful,” Dr. Marks said.

What Can I Do About Spider Veins?

Sometimes spider veins result from a certain condition, like pregnancy, or may result from certain diseases. Spider veins may also result from certain lifestyle habits or tendencies.

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Dr. Marks suggests these tips to prevent and treat spider veins:

  • The primary way to prevent spider veins is to avoid a sedentary lifestyle and weight gain which predisposes you to enlarged veins of all types, including varicose veins.
  • Occasionally, birth control pills can also be associated with enlarging veins.
  • Pregnancy can cause spider veins, but these often disappear after delivery.
  • There is a theory that leg crossing might cause spider veins and that compression stockings may reduce the risk.

Move On from Spider Veins

Spider veins are typically considered cosmetic, but if they are affecting your mood or your ability to exercise you may consider getting help.

“For example, if you do not want to wear shorts or a swimsuit, I advise getting spider veins treated so you can move on with your life,” Dr. Marks said. “Literally, move on, and start exercising if you are not already. This promotes health and well being.”

Spider veins should not hold you back from being active and healthy.

“I try to encourage an active lifestyle, not specifically to prevent spider veins, but to improve all health parameters, including mood,” Dr. Marks said.

If Spider Veins are Causing Stress

If spider veins are impacting your lifestyle, you may want to talk to your provider about treatment options.

“Spider veins can be treated to reduce or eliminate their appearance,” Dr. Marks said. “Modalities of treatment include sclerotherapy (injecting something into the vein to cause it to disappear) and laser therapy.”

So remember, spider veins aren’t too scary. They’re mainly a cosmetic issue and can be left alone if they don’t bother you. 

About the author

Jill Taylor
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I contribute content and skills as a freelance writer for Baylor Scott & White Health. I enjoy improving our connection with our readers, patients and communities by assisting with a wide range of writing projects.

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Spider veins — are they more than just scary?