Sometimes, you may have noticed red and blue blood vessels visible through your skin. Did you become slightly worried or embarrassed about them? Have you wondered? They are known as spider veins. Let’s discuss the causes and treatments of spider vein.
The causes of spider veins
Spider veins are a mild manifestation of venous reflux disease. This means a small, tangled groups of blood vessels that are found just beneath the surface of the skin. These dilated veins have the appearance of spider webs or branches, and are normally spread out around the legs and feet.
What are the risk factors?
Spider vein risk factors are similar to those associated with varicose veins, including older age, occupations requiring extended periods of standing, obesity, hormonal changes and heredity factors (weak vessel walls). One can also suffer from this condition because of weak vessel walls or from exposure to ultraviolet rays.
Considering the risk factors, some people will be more prone to this problem than others. For example, if you work as a surgeon, a teacher or a nurse, chances are higher that you could develop spider veins. Similarly, if there is a genetic history of weak vein valves, the probability of developing spider veins is also high. The same applies to hormonal changes, which generally occur during puberty, pregnancy and menopause.
The exact cause of spider veins not been strictly established. Existing risk factors can be divided into two general sub-divisions, i.e. congenital causes and acquired causes. In congenital causes, we have port-wine stain, Maffucci’s syndrome and hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (also known as osler-weber-rendu syndrome), among others. The acquired causes include chemotherapy, acne rosacea and lifestyle/occupation risk factors (as discussed above).
What symptoms are associated with spider veins?
Spider veins are painful in some cases, generally accompanying cramping and aching. They often result in a feeling of heaviness in the legs, and tingling, burning or throbbing feelings. Also, other symptoms such as itching, swelling and fatigue can also be experienced. In serious cases, this condition can establish large sores, phlebitis and ulcers. However, spider veins are noticed by their appearance in the majority of incidences.
Tests and Diagnosis
Doctors usually use non-invasive diagnostic tests to diagnose this condition. These tests are perfectly safe and painless, with no scalpels, needles or medication being involved. The entire procedure is normally very brief, and probably won’t take you more than one hour from start to finish.
There are three main things that doctors seek to answer through these tests. First, they are seeking to establish any evidence of deep vein blood clots. Secondly, they discover if the veins are functioning properly. And last, they test the Greater Saphenous Vein (GSV) to determine if it is working well.
A competent vein specialist will always undertake this exercise before treating your condition. Some of the procedures that you can expect include:
*Color-flow Duplex Exam – This is used to evaluate the anatomy of the affected veins. It determines the direction of blood flow, openings and blockages. This procedure is also important in the process of vein mapping (done for skin deep problems).
*Bi-directional Doppler Exam – This is an ultrasound exam used to determine the speed of blood flow and whether it pauses during normal breathing. It also identifies whether your veins are working properly.
*Photoplethysmography – Phew! Don’t let this complicated medical term intimidate you. Photoplethysmography is basically a diagnostic procedure that is used to determine the efficiency of your calf muscle pump.
*Pressure Calf Exam – In performing this exam, you’ll be asked to lie facing upwards with legs lifted higher than your chest. This diagnostic procedure identifies vessel blockages.
After establishing the nature of your problem, the doctor will then outline the best treatment for you. There are several available options:
Sclerotherapy involves the doctor injecting a saline solution into the affected veins. This solution results in damage to the affected vessel walls, causing them to swell and seal shut. Eventually the scar tissue will fade. The entire sclerotherapy procedure takes about 30 minutes, and has only mild side-effects. Although the injection may be a bit painful, the stinging sensation is usually gone within a few minutes.
Laser & Intense Pulsed Light
This treatment option employs the use of a specialised device that focuses laser energy to the damaged tissue. The whole procedure will just take twenty minutes, and has minimal side-effects.
Using natural remedies can mean the difference between undergoing medical procedures or not, and are valuable alongside medical treatment. Some of the recommended herbal remedies include:
*Horse Chestnut Seed – Studies show that this seed improves blood circulation in the legs thus strengthening the veins and capillaries.
*Bilberry Extract – This herbal extract is known to stimulate new capillary formation thus strengthening the capillary walls.
*Butchers Broom – This herb strengthens veins.
*Gotu Kola – A very effective extract in addressing venous insufficiency, foot swelling and water retention. It therefore provides a good solution to spider veins found on the legs.
*Distilled Witch Hazel – This is directly applied on the affected areas using a cotton ball. Numerous clinical studies have shown that this extract can help strengthen blood vessels.
Caution: For health safety purposes, do not start using any herbal remedies without consulting a qualified doctor.
Spider veins prevention
Two of the most important things regarding the prevention of spider veins are eating well and getting regular exercise. Eating a diet higher in fresh, raw fruits and vegetables than meat and convenience food is very important, and if your job requires you to stand for a long time, you should regularly shift your body weight from one leg to another as well as standing evenly balanced.
To sum things up, the procedure of a spider vein removal is chosen by several key factors. Your specialist will choose the optimum treatment options based on the results obtained from the diagnostic tests. We hope that this article will provide all the necessary guidance you need in addressing this problem.