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Why Spider Veins May Mean Something More than a Cosmetic Concern

Why Spider Veins May Mean Something More than a Cosmetic Concern

Posted on August 19, 2013 by Dr. Stephen Rivard

Spider Veins May Be a Sign of Underlying Vein Disease

spider veins

Many people (and Doctors) often think of Spider veins as simply a cosmetic issue. They tell themselves they will get treatment if they have time in the future and don't really think about them as a health concerns. This may not always be the case. Many don't understand that spider veins in the legs are frequently associated with underlying venous hypertension (varicose veins).Generally, high pressure in the veins inside the legs is caused when the vein valves break and the flow of blood falls backwards.  This pressure forces its way to the surface veins, distending the small capillaries and causing the appearance of spider veins.  This typically occurs below the knees and at the ankles.

Many patients seem surprised when then come in to see us at Illinois Vein Specialists and we insist on a thorough exam of both legs including specialized ultrasonography by our IVS’ certified technicians.  It is common to hear the question, "I don't see any varicose veins only spider veins. Why do I need an ultrasound?"

Well, the answer is generally this: In most cases, spider veins appearing in certain areas of the legs are an indication of more serious issues. About 25% of the patients we see for "cosmetic" reasons actually have more serious underlying vein problems.  If large varicosities under the skin exist causing spider veins to appear on the surface, the spider veins will not respond to any forms of treatments isolating those veins alone. In fact, they often get worse because the treatment is not addressing the source of the problem. The spider veins will continue to reoccur as time passes.


Other factors in the development of spider veins include: 

  • Age: The development of spider veins can occur at any time, but  likelihood usually peaks during late middle-age.
  • Gender: Women are four times more likely to have spider veins than men.
  • Pregnancy: Certain hormones are thought to weaken vein walls. This coupled with increased blood volume during pregnancy tends to distend veins.
  • Lifestyle/Occupation: Daily activities requiring prolonged sitting or standing also increase the likelihood of development of spider veins.


Here'’s where the story gets interesting:

Many people actually have symptoms of underlying vein disease for several years without recognizing them. They can be a bit vague, occurring intermittently and then disappearing. This is why they rarely trigger the medical alarm bell we all have in our heads.

For example, many patients tell us that before seeking treatment they would experience a dull ache in their legs that would disappear without explanation. Now and then they would suffer from restless leg syndrome in the same leg for a couple of nights and then it would disappear. This would occur off and on for years at a time. There just didn'’t seem to be anything to tell a doctor about.

Remember - Vein disease is real disease. Venous hypertension, whether painful or not, whether visible or not, should not be ignored any more than arterial hypertension (usually called high blood pressure) can be ignored. Vein disease will only get worse if left untreated and can interfere with wound healing, congestive heart disease and other medical conditions.



At Illinois Vein Specialists, we understand that seeking proper care is just as important to you as it is for us.  That is why we focus only on treating varicose and spider veins and provide the most advanced and effective treatments available today.  We treat patients from Buffalo Grove, Cary, Elgin, Algonquin, Palatine, Vernon Hills, Crystal Lake, Hoffman Estates, Lake Zurich, Fox River Grove, Mundelein, Grayslake, Wauconda, Glenview, Northbrook, Chicago, and all areas of Barrington, Illinois. 

We understand that when you choose a doctor you want to go to someone you know, like and trust, and honestly so do we. We know that patients come to us most often from satisfied patient referrals, but we encourage you to do your own homework and ask around. In the end no matter where you live or who you decide to have treat your varicose or spider veins find someone who focuses only on diagnosing and treating varicose and spider veins -- find a Board Certified Venous and Lymphatic Doctor.



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Tagged Varicose Vein Treatment, varicose veins, Varicose Veins vs. Spider Veins, venous hypertension, Prevention of Vein Disease, spider veins


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