Spider Veins:
Definition and Treatment

WHAT ARE SPIDER VEINS?

Spider Veins are a common concern. In fact, well over 80 percent of people in the United States develop spider veins as they age. While spider veins are mostly seen among older people, people of any age may develop them. Most of the time, spider veins are a cosmetic issue, but some people prefer to have them removed for cosmetic reasons. Here, we have provided information about spider veins in general as well as their prevention and treatment.

What is the difference between spider veins and varicose veins?

Spider veins appear when small blood vessels near the surface of the skin become dilated with blood. As the vessels swell, they become visible through the skin and create random patterns that resemble spider webs, which is where the name comes from.

Unlike varicose veins, spider veins are flat and don’t change the texture of the skin. In most cases patients do not experience pain from a spider vein.

Where do you get spider veins?

There are two common areas where spider veins appear most often, on the legs and on the face. Spider veins occur more often on the face because of the many tiny blood vessels near the surface of the skin. The legs tend to get more because those veins are under the most stress in the body.

Are spider veins a serious problem?

Spider veins are like a less-serious version of varicose veins. This happens when blood does not travel as quickly as it should through the blood vessels. As a result, the blood builds up in the vessel and becomes visible through the skin.

If you get treatment for spider veins you should also get examined for vein disease at the same time. This will help you find out if you are at risk for developing varicose veins.

If you experience pain and heaviness in the legs in the evenings and you have spider veins you should get examined. It could be a sign of a serious issue known as deep vein thrombosis.


WHAT CAUSES SPIDER VEINS?

While spider veins are a common condition, there are certain factors that increase the chance that spider veins will appear. These include:

  • Standing or sitting for too long
  • Family history
  • General lack of exercise
  • Age
  • Certain drugs (e.g. topical corticosteroids)
  • Pregnancy (often clears up a few months after pregnancy)
  • Smoking
  • Certain congenital diseases

Age is one of the important factors, since blood vessels tend to weaken as they age. Exposure to free radicals, like UV sunlight, also plays a large part in the development of spider veins. Especially because facial veins mainly sustain damage from overexposure to sunlight. Sunlight can also cause vein damage in your legs, so be sure to use sunscreen!

If you enjoy sitting out in the summer, be intentional and cautious of how long you stay in the sun. Ensure that you use a strong enough sunscreen to prevent vein damage. Anything over SPF 30 will do. As an added plus, sunscreen use will help prevent other serious issues like skin cancer.

The best way to decrease your chances of getting spider veins is regular exercise. Strong blood flow keeps your veins healthy and will prevent a buildup of blood in the vessels. Additionally, if you smoke, you can prevent spider veins and other health conditions by quitting.


What Spider Vein Treatment Is Available To Me?

If you do develop spider veins, they do not have to be permanent. There are several minimally invasive treatments for these types of veins that do not require any surgery.

Spider Vein Treatment Option 1: Sclerotherapy

For the legs, a medicine is injected to create a similar effect as laser therapy. This is called sclerotherapy and is performed as an outpatient procedure.

Once administered, the medicine injected into the vein begins irritating and dissolving the blood vessel walls. This irritation causes the injected vein to breakdown and disappear. The sclerosant can also be administered as a foam in order to treat a larger vein.

Sclerotherapy is a process and typically requires multiple treatments. Appointments are usually scheduled 6-8 weeks apart. With only two or three appointments, we can usually improve a patch of spider veins by 90 to 95 percent.

With new developments, there are also sclerotherapy treatments available for facial spider veins. Sclerotherapy for facial veins uses a fine needle to inject the medicine into the vein. Patients typically report minimal to no pain during these treatments.

These treatments are available for spider veins and varicose veins. Because they are minimally invasive procedures, we can complete your treatment in under and hour. You may notice some minor side effects around the treatment area, but they will usually fade within a few days. In certain cases, side effect may not fade for a few weeks.

Spider Vein Treatment Option 2: Laser Surgery

One of the most common treatments for spider veins is laser surgery. This is typically used more on facial veins, but can be used on leg spiders as well. The results of laser spider vein removal on the legs is not as good as sclerotherapy because of the thickness of the skin.

These treatments use laser light beams to disrupt, damage, and irritate the vein walls without breaking skin. The blood vessels then turn into scar tissue and are reabsorbed into the body. 

While it will take several weeks for the spider veins to fade, patients usually only need one laser procedure for facial veins. Laser treatments on the legs may require multiple treatments. If laser surgery fails to yield sufficient results, sclerotherapy may be needed.

Unfortunately, we no longer offer laser treatments for facial spider veins because our facial vein laser has recently worn out and there are no plans to replace it currently. However, we do still offer sclerotherapy for facial spider veins.

Will my insurance cover vein therapy?

Because spider vein treatments are considered cosmetic procedures, most insurance companies will not provide coverage. However, there are exceptions. If the spider vein bleeds periodically, you may receive coverage. Also, if your spider veins are related to a more serious health condition, your insurance company may provide coverage.

How can I pay for Spider Vein Treatment?

If your insurance does not cover the costs of your treatment, we can work with you and establish a payment plan. We understand how important it is for you to get the treatment you deserve, and we’re here to help.

Recovery from Vein Therapy

After leg vein treatment, you will be required to wear a compression stocking for a set period of time. This prevents and reduces bruising around the injection site for sclerotherapy. There is a possibility that treated veins will need additional treatment.

For facial spider veins, you can resume activities immediately. However, you may want to limit exposure to the sun for a week or two after your treatment. This will help reduce the risk of irritation or discoloration around the treatment area.

As you seek treatment for your veins, make sure you ask your doctor about side effects and risks after surgery such as blood clots. Make sure you also discuss your medical history with your doctor in order to prevent allergic reactions.

Almost everyone will develop some form of spider veins as they grow older. While you don’t have to do anything about them, they don’t have to be permanent. If you don’t like spider veins showing up in your skin or if they start to hurt, contact one of our vascular surgeons at the Vein Centre for a consultation. We’ll be glad to go over treatment options with you.

Our vein clinics are located throughout the Greater Nashville Area. You can find us in Franklin, Mt. Juliet, and Belle Meade.

spider vein treatment

Our Locations

Franklin

125 Cool Springs Blvd, Suite 250
Franklin, TN 37067
Phone: 615-503-9895


Belle Meade

4535 Harding Pike, Suite 304
Nashville, TN 37205
Phone: 615-269-9007


Mount Juliet

660 South Mount Juliet Rd, Suite 211
Mount Juliet, TN 37122
Phone: 615-932-8346