What Are Spider Veins?

Spider veins (medically known as telangiectasias) are tiny (1-2mm) surface veins that resemble a spider web on the skin surface. Patients may have isolated surface spider veins, although in some patients the presence of spider veins may be an indication of underlying vein disease. Spider veins may not be bulging or painful like larger varicose veins, but they are still unsightly and cause for concern for many people. If you suffer from spider veins, it is important to be evaluated by a vein specialists in order to evaluate for underlying venous disease.

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What Causes Spider Veins?

Spider veins are the mildest form of venous disease and are small, web-like, veins located just under the skin surface. The most common causes of spider veins is family history, age, prolonged standing, pregnancy, hormonal changes related to ovulation or menopause, or an underlying vein condition. Spider veins may just be an isolated cosmetic issue, but may be a clue to underlying venous disease.

What are Symptoms of Spider Veins?

Spider veins typically do not cause major symptoms and are thus usually considered a cosmetic issue. Some patients may complain of itching/burning at site of spider veins. Most patients will only have isolated spider veins, without any underlying venous disease, however spider veins may be an indication of presence of additional venous disease in the legs. If you experience any of the listed symptoms you may have additional disease within the larger veins of the legs. If you experience any of these symptoms, an Ultrasound of the legs will be performed to diagnose any additional larger vein reflux that might need to be treated for optimal results.

  • Leg pain/aching/cramping
  • Leg itching/burning/numbness
  • Skin changes/discoloration
  • Leg restlessness
  • Leg or ankle swelling
  • Heavy feeling in the legs
  • Varicose veins
  • Spider veins

Spider Vein Diagnosis and Treatment

Spider veins are treated with sclerotherapy (injecting tiny amount of irritant into the vein cause it to close) or surface laser therapy. Treatment sessions usually take around 30 minutes and usually 2-3 treatment sessions are needed for complete removal of these veins. Typically, spider veins are purely a cosmetic issue and usually not covered by insurance.

The first step is to obtain a detailed history of your complaints and concerns. Once a complete history of your complaints is taken, a directed physical exam of your legs will be performed. Oftentimes the history and physical will strongly suggest the presence of venous disease, but an ultrasound is the diagnostic gold standard. All ultrasounds are performed within our office and results are available immediately. If the ultrasound shows abnormal blood flow and increase in size of veins, the diagnosis of venous insufficiency can be made with certainty. Insurance companies will require that an ultrasound be performed in order to document the presence of disease. Next, depending on the extent of disease and location of disease, a personalized treatment plan will be established. The next step in the process is to obtain authorization from your insurance carrier to perform the procedure, which usually takes 2-3 weeks. Once your insurance company authorizes the procedure, we can start the treatment plan.

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