Sometimes, you may have noticed red and blue blood vessels visible through your skin. Have you been slightly embarrassed or worried about them? Do you wonder what they are? They are known as spider veins. Here, we will discuss the causes and various treatments of spider vein.
What causes spider veins?
Spider veins are a mild manifestation of venous reflux disease. They are small, tangled groups of blood vessels that are found just beneath the skin’s surface. The veins are slightly dilated, and have the appearance of spider webs or branches, and are usually spread out on the legs and feet.
What are the risk factors?
Spider vein risk factors are like those associated with varicose veins, and include older age, obesity, occupations requiring extended periods of standing, hormonal changes and heredity factors (weak vessel walls). People can also develop this condition due to prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays or as a result of weak vessel walls.
From the risk factors, it is clear that some people are prone to this problem than others. For example, if you work as a surgeon, a nurse or a teacher, the chances are higher that you might develop this condition. Similarly, if there is a genetic history of weak vein valves, the probability of developing spider veins is also high. The same applies regarding 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. acquired causes and congenital. In congenital causes, there Maffucci’s syndrom, port-wine stain and hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (also known as osler-weber-rendu syndrome), among others. The acquired causes include acne rosacea, chemotherapy and lifestyle/occupation risk factors (as mentioned above).
What symptoms are associated with spider veins?
Spider veins are painful in some cases, generally accompanying cramping and aching. They are also closely linked to heaviness in the legs, and burning, throbbing or tingling sensations. Also, other symptoms such as itching, fatigue and swelling can also be experienced. In serious cases, this condition can develop phlebitis, large sores and ulcers. However, spider veins are noticed by their appearance in the majority of incidences.
Tests and Diagnosis
Doctors generally use non-invasive diagnostic tests to diagnose this condition. These tests are perfectly safe and painless, with no needles, scalpels or medication needing to be 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 questions that doctors seek to answer through these diagnostic tests. First, they seek to establish any evidence of deep vein blood clots. Secondly, they discover whether the veins are functioning properly. And last, they test the Greater Saphenous Vein (GSV) to determine if it is working well or not.
Any 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 (needed 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 the veins are working properly.
*Photoplethysmography – Phew! Don’t let this complicated medical word 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 your legs raised above your chest. This diagnostic procedure seeks to identify any vessel blockages.
After establishing the nature of your problem, the doctor can then recommend the right treatment plan for you. Here are several available options:
Sclerotherapy involves the doctor injecting a saline solution into the affected veins. The solution results in damage to the affected vessel walls, causing them to swell and seal shut. Eventually the scar tissue will fade away. The entire sclerotherapy procedure takes approximately thirty 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 procedure only takes 20 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 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 crucial, and if your job requires you to stand for a long time, you need to 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 according to several key factors. Your doctor will determine 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.