Millions of women and men are troubled by unattractive spider veins on their faces and legs. Spider veins are called as such because they resemble a “star” with numerous small veins radiating from a center point.

They may also appear as fine, separate lines, a web-like maze, or as “branches” from a single “tree trunk.” Because the spider veins are dark and superficial to the skin, they are a major source of embarrassment for most females. It is estimated that more than 75% of females over the age of 18 have spider veins.

These red, blue or purple thread-like lines may develop on any part of the body, including the face, but most often appear on the thighs, calves, or buttocks. Spider veins are commonly associated with increased pressure to the veins.

What are Spider Veins?

Spider veins are very small veins that are most commonly seen on the soft skin of your face, legs, nose, chest and arms. The spider veins are always superficial to the skin and much smaller than the varicose veins. Sometimes they expand and show through the skin, giving a red or purplish appearance.

Spider veins, also known as telangiectasia or broken capillaries, are formed by the dilation of a small group of blood vessels located close to the surface of the skin. Telangiectasias are open (dilated) blood vessels in the outer layer of the skin usually caused by sun damage or aging.

When they appear on the legs, they are often called spider veins. They are common to a number of diseases, including acne, rosacea, birthmarks (port-wine stains), varicous veins, scleroderma, several types of inherited disorders (ataxia-telangiectasia, hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia, xeroderma pigmentosum, and others), or with prolonged use of oral or topical corticosteroid.

They are also quite common in a number of endocrine (hormonal) disorders. Spider veins are more obvious as we get older, when the skin becomes thinner and loses some of its collagen.

Are spider veins bad for health and do they cause pain?

One thing to note about these veins is that they are harmless and not associated with any symptoms. The disfigurement is only of a cosmetic concern. While we do not have any cure for spider veins, they can improve with weight loss.

Most spider veins are not medically important and are only of cosmetic concern. If there is pain, swelling of the feet and legs the symptoms are not from spider veins. Be sure to consult your family physician.

What causes spider veins?

The cause of spider veins is unknown, although it is believed they may be caused by several factors including changes in temperature, smoking, hormonal changes, alcohol, and prolonged standing as well as hereditary conditions.

Spider veins are also the result of abnormal blood flow and weakening of the blood vessel wall. Any condition or activity that places pressure on the veins (like weight gain, prolonged sitting or standing) was observed to contribute to their development.

Spider veins increase with age so they are common problem of the elderly. There is also a genetic basis since spider veins tend to be prevalent in some families.

Spider veins commonly occur during pregnancy, most frequently during the second trimester, and have been associated with an increased female sex hormone estrogen. Estrogen is known to weaken the walls of the veins and may contribute to the development of spider veins.

Can spider veins disappear on their own?

Unfortunately no. Once spider veins develop they usually get worse and do not resolve on their own. Weight gain, lack of exercise and sedentary life style is associated with proliferation of spider veins.

Lasers can be used to remove spider veins on the face, body and legs. Laser treatments will remove fine and large spider veins quickly and effectively, and two or three sessions is usually all that is needed to leave your skin feeling smooth and blemish-free. This is a non invasive treatment for veins 1 mm to 4 mm in size.

We use Laser Nd-YAG to treat a broad range of spider veins from tiny spider veins to deep blue reticular veins up to 4mm in size quickly, safely, and effectively. Laser systems deliver pulses of light energy which cause the blood within the vein to coagulate, eventually destroying the vessel which is later reabsorbed by your body.

Blood flow will then be redirected to veins deeper below your skin’s surface, where it normally should be. Many patients find that one or two treatments are sufficient. However, several treatments may be necessary depending on the number, color, and size of the vessels being treated.

In most cases the same veins will not reoccur, but new veins can appear at other sites over time and require new treatment.

Unfortunately, some people have a tendency to produce these unwanted veins, and may continue to do so even after successful treatment. Touch up treatments may be needed every few years to clean up the new spider veins that appear over time.

How safe is laser treatment of spider veins?

The best and gold standard treatment for spider veins is laser. Laser vein removal is an easy, fast, and effective way to treat superficial veins. Laser therapy has been used in medicine for more than 30 years. Advances in laser technology have helped develop many different lasers.

The laser uses a focused beam of light energy with a specific frequency / wavelength. In the treatment of veins, the wavelength of light is specifically targeted to the pigment in the blood. The laser heats up the small vein and destroys it.

The laser beam is focused onto the vein and does not damage the nearby skin tissue. Over a period of one to three months the veins are absorbed by the body and disappear. One hundred percent clearance can not be guaranteed, since sometimes the smallest spider veins are the hardest to treat.

Another difficulty arises with thick bundles of spider veins that are in multiple layers and cause bruise-like skin spots, usually found on the thighs.

Brownish streaks that follow the course of treated spider veins can persist for several months. They are the result of effective laser damage to the vessels, and it takes time for your body to absorb the debris.

What laser is best for spider veins?

The 1064-YAG laser is superior to other lasers because it allows precise treatment of all visible blood vessels, broken capillaries, spider veins, vascular lesions and discolorations of the skin. 1064-YAG laser uses a wavelength of light to harmlessly penetrate the top layer of the skin, targeting the dilated blood vessels beneath the skin’s surface, and breaking them apart to be naturally absorbed by the body.

It also seals the leaky blood vessel. During the procedure, the laser’s chilled tip protects the superficial layers of your skin from heat damage and reduces discomfort.

Because the laser emits light in a series of pulses, some patients describe this experience as a mild to moderate stinging sensation that feels like a rubber band snapping against the skin combined with heat.

Some patients experience a burning sensation for 1 to 2 hours after treatment. You may also notice a bruise-like discoloration for 3 to 5 days, and it will usually fade to a pinkish or beige color, with complete skin clearing anywhere between 6 weeks and 12 months.

The number and length of treatments depends on the size, location and depth of the veins needing treatment. Most cherry angiomas can be removed with the 1064- YAG laser in 1 treatment.