Spider Vein Symptoms and Signs

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Spider veins are small damaged blood vessels near the skin’s surface. Also known as telangiectasia or thread veins, these clusters of tiny veins are different from varicose veins, but they can lead to similar symptoms. 

Understanding the signs and symptoms of spider veins can help you decide when to see a vein specialist for an evaluation. 

What Are Spider Veins?

Spider veins are superficial veins in the fatty layer directly beneath the skin. They send blood to the deep veins, which pump over 90% of the blood in the legs toward the heart.

Like the deep veins, these small blood vessels have one-way valves consisting of two flaps that open and close. The valves are responsible for allowing blood to move in one direction — in the case of spider veins, blood flows toward the deep veins via a series of feeder veins. 

When the valves in these superficial veins become damaged or weakened, they don’t close properly, allowing blood to flow backward. This backflow puts pressure on the walls of the blood vessels, causing them to bulge and branch out — and creating tree-like branches of veins visible just beneath the skin. 

What Causes Spider Veins?

Malfunctioning valves are the underlying cause of spider veins.

Watch the video below and learn more about spider veins and their symptoms.

Spider Vein (Telangiectasia) Symptoms and Signs

Telangiectases or spider veins don’t usually cause physical symptoms and are primarily an aesthetic concern. Some people do, however, experience spider vein symptoms.

Use the guide below to recognize the signs of spider veins:

Spider Veins: Symptoms and Signs
Appearance Bright red, purple, or blue; appear as webs of small veins that can look similar to spider webs or tree branches
Location Most common on the legs, ankles, and face
Severity  Usually only cosmetic, although symptoms may be present if spider veins are a sign of vein disease
Discomfort May cause discomfort, such as burning, leg cramps, or itching

If you are uncomfortable with the appearance of spider veins, our vein specialists offer minimally invasive spider vein treatments

Who Is at Risk for Developing Spider Veins?

Spider veins are a common vein issue that affects men and women. One study found that 88% of women and 79% of men had spider veins. 

Certain factors can increase your risk.

  • Age: Spider veins usually start developing between the ages of 30 and 50 and are most common in adults over 50. 
  • Being overweight: Excess weight puts more pressure on vein walls, which can damage valves. 
  • Pregnancy: During pregnancy, blood volume increases, which can expand veins. Hormonal changes during pregnancy may also play a role in developing spider veins. 
  • Family history: About 90% of people with spider veins have a family history.
  • Sitting or standing for long periods: The more sedentary you are, the more likely you are to develop vein issues like spider veins. 

About one in five people with spider veins also have venous insufficiency, which can lead to varicose veins and uncomfortable vein symptoms, including the following:

  • Throbbing, aching legs
  • Swelling
  • Restless legs
  • Leg cramps
  • Venous ulcers

If you have spider veins and noticeable symptoms of vein disease, it’s important to see a vein specialist. An experienced doctor can evaluate your veins, determine if you’re at risk for more serious issues like blood clots, and recommend a personalized treatment plan. 

Get Treatment for Spider Vein Symptoms at USA Vein Clinics

USA Vein Clinics is the nation’s largest network of vein clinics. We have a team of experienced vein doctors who specialize in treating spider veins and varicose veins using minimally invasive, FDA-approved treatments. If you are concerned about your vein health, book an appointment at a clinic near you today. We also offer telemedicine appointments. 

Schedule a Consultation with a Vein Specialist

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between spider veins and varicose vein symptoms?

Spider veins are small, superficial blood vessels that can appear as branches or webs just under the skin, often without causing symptoms but sometimes leading to itching or minor discomfort. Varicose veins, on the other hand, are larger, deeper veins that often appear twisted and raised on the skin. They can cause more significant symptoms like leg aching, a sensation of heaviness, cramps, and skin changes.

Do spider veins disappear on their own?

Spider veins do not go away on their own. However, vein treatment can improve the appearance of spider veins and alleviate any pain or discomfort from venous issues

Are spider veins painful?

A small percentage of patients do experience spider veins symptoms, such as pain, tenderness, or swelling

What are the best ways to prevent spider veins?

Lifestyle changes can help to keep your veins healthier and reduce any symptoms associated with spider veins. The following are lifestyle changes to help with spider veins:

  • Exercise. Movement helps promote healthy blood flow. Even something as simple as walking for 20 minutes a day can improve vein health.
  • Diet. By eating a diet high in fiber and low in salt, processed foods, and sugar, you can support healthy circulation, promoting better vein health. 
  • Changing position. Avoid being sedentary, or sitting or standing for too long, by switching positions or taking a quick walk.
  • Wear compression stockings. These specialized socks help support blood flow while also decreasing pressure inside the veins, and ultimately relieve common spider vein symptoms.

How are spider veins treated?

At USA Vein Clinics, our doctors use minimally invasive treatments for spider veins, including sclerotherapy and laser treatment. We diminish the appearance of visible veins by causing damaged veins to collapse and rerouting blood flow to healthy veins. 

Learn more about our vein treatments

When should I consult with a vein specialist?

If you don’t like the way your veins look, or if you notice spider vein symptoms, such as pain, restless legs, cramping, or skin changes, make an appointment to see a vein specialist near you. Spider veins might be a sign of an underlying vein condition that can get worse. Vein treatment can help to alleviate any symptoms and revitalize your legs. 

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