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Medical authorities estimate that about 25-33% of the population has some vein disease!

What is a Spider Vein?

Spider veins are very small, thin veins that typically appear on the legs or ankles. They’re visible and located on the upper most surface of the skin. Spider veins appear as small red, purple, or blue lines and can branch out in multiple directions. In severe cases, spider veins may appear to resemble webs or tree branches. While spider veins don’t necessarily pose an urgent or serious health risk, they can cause discomfort after certain activities. Many people want to treat spider veins due to cosmetic concerns since they’re surface veins that can be seen by others. Luckily, there are plenty of treatments for spider veins.

Symptoms of Spider Veins

The most notable symptom of spider veins is their appearance. While some can be small, spider veins can usually be noticed upon closer inspection of the skin. While spider veins are usually painless, they can be accompanied by periods of discomfort—especially after standing for long amounts of time. Even though treatment upon the first sign of spider veins isn’t a life or death situation, it’s important to see your doctor to make sure that there’s no indication of underlying vein disease.


Causes and Risk Factors of Spider Veins

The primary cause of spider veins is due to vein valve insufficiency. Arteries carry blood away from the heart while veins carry blood to the heart. To ensure that this one-way flow persists, both arteries and veins have valves. In cases of spider veins, the valves inside of the veins aren’t working properly and therefore, blood flow halts. This can cause increased pressure which leads to spider veins.

Other factors that contribute to an increased risk of developing spider veins include aging, family history of spider veins, and even hormonal changes. If you’re using hormonal treatments or are on hormonal birth control, it can weaken vein valves and increase your risk for spider veins. These factors can lead to vein stretching below the surface of the skin. Over time, this means that the surface veins contain too much blood and therefore become more visible. Unfortunately, if you have a family history of spider veins, you’re 90% more likely to develop them yourself.



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Preventing Spider Veins

If you have a genetic history of spider veins, there isn’t as much preventative action you can take to completely eliminate your chances of developing them, but you can try to reduce their severity. Make sure that you live an active lifestyle and keep a healthy weight. Avoid restrictive diets that don’t result in long-term change and consider talking to your doctor about using compression stockings.

Unfortunately, genetics is the main determinant that dictates whether or not you’ll get spider veins but don’t worry. There are plenty of great treatment options available that will eradicate your spider veins and keep your legs healthy.


Complications of Spider Veins

Spider veins are the most common type of vein disease and affect up to 80% of women over the age of 40. While most of these instances only create cosmetic problems or concerns, there can still be complications. Roughly 25% of people who are living with spider veins actually have some sort of underlying vein disease that’s causing them to occur—especially if the spider veins are close to the ankles. If vein disease is left untreated, it can result in more serious problems down the line and increase your risk factor for developing varicose veins or deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which are blood clots in the legs. Untreated vein disease can lead to venous reflux, skin changes such as stasis dermatitis and cellulitis, and venous ulcers. To avoid putting yourself at risk for these complications, seeing a doctor who specializes in Venous and Lymphatic Medicine is the best course of action.

When to See a Doctor

The best way to take proactive care of yourself is to see a board-certified doctor who specializes in venous and lymphatic medicine at the first sign of spider veins. During the consultation, your doctor will be able to determine whether or not the spider veins are a sign of a more serious vein disease or simply a cosmetic concern. Regardless of the outcome, there are plenty of new treatments for spider veins that are virtually pain free and have little to no recovery tine.



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Treatment Options from Illinois Vein Specialists

Over 30 million Americans suffer from venous disease in some form or another, but only a fraction of those seek treatment. Either they’re unaware of their condition or they don’t realize the seriousness of it. With only 10% of Americans seeking treatment, the remaining live each day at risk of developing severe complications. Due to many misconceptions, people don’t understand the need for treatment. We’re here to help you understand that treatment for your spider veins is just as important as treatment for varicose veins. When left untreated, you’re taking a risk that’s simply not worth it. Thanks to modern technology, treatment options are easy, pain-free, and require little to no downtime.

When you see a board-certified physician at Illinois Vein Specialist, the first step in spider veins treatments is to perform an ultrasound. This allows us to determine the source of your problems and subsequently, whether or not they’re related to more serious venous disorders.

Once you receive a diagnosis, our vein specialists will work with you to determine which of the newest spider vein treatment options is best for you.

While many people have avoided treatment due to misconceptions about treatments, times have changed. With the creation of the Venous and Lymphatic Medicine specialty, physicians can now specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of vein disease. When searching for a vein specialist, make sure that you find a physician who is board-certified in venous and lymphatic medicine for the best treatment options.

In the past, vein stripping was one of the only methods used to rid patients of both varicose veins and spider veins. However, as time passed doctors started to notice the inefficiency of the treatment—it was only successful about 50% of the time. Due to the lack of consistent success, paired with the painful procedure and long recovery times, physicians began to look for more progressive spider vein new treatment options. Today, the primary treatment options for spider veins includes procedures called sclerotherapy and intense pulsed light (IPL) treatment.


Most spider veins are treated using sclerotherapy, which is a method of closing veins through the injection of a solution called a sclerosing agent. This causes inflammation and ultimately destruction of the lining of the blood vessel causing it to harden. For superficial veins, the injections are treated by a trained Registered Nurse (RN) using a VeinLite® guidance system for visualization. For injections into larger and deeper veins, Dr. Rivard will use an ultrasound to guide his injection. This procedure, in combination with compression bandages and hosiery, will aid in the distribution of the medication and vein closure. Over time, the sclerosed vein will be reabsorbed by the body tissue and fade away.

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Treatment

The other option for treating spider veins is through intense pulsed light (IPL) treatment. IPL provides similar treatment results to laser therapy, without the laser. It uses a concentrated light that’s directed precisely at the affected area, which then emits a controlled amount of heat through various pulses to the vines. IPL requires no downtime and can be performed in about 15-45 minutes depending on the nature of the veins that need treatment. When performed by a board-certified vein specialist, IPL produces no damage to the surrounding areas. Following the treatment of intense pulsed light, your body will reabsorb the damaged vein back into the blood stream where it will eventually disappear altogether. Some patients describe IPL as a slight pinching sensation, but overall there is minimal discomfort if any.

It is important to note that IPL can result in some redness or bruising. The treated area may also feel slightly bumpy or raised, but these side effects should subside within a day or two. Since the procedure is non-invasive, you can resume your regular daily activities immediately after the treatment is finished.

Most new spider vein treatment is covered under common insurance providers, especially if it indicates vein disease. However. it’s important to check with your insurance company beforehand. If we notice any signs of varicose veins, you will need to utilize a different treatment option. If you have any questions about the procedure or what recovery will look like, the vein specialists at Illinois Vein Specialists are here to help. We offer progressive treatment options for spider veins, vein disease, varicose veins, and more. If you have any symptoms, whether visible or not, don’t hesitate to contact us today. Illinois Vein Specialists understand that seeking proper care is just as important to you as it is for us. Our board-certified physicians are here to make sure that you’re living a healthy life free of vein disease and bothersome cosmetic problems.