All About
Spider Veins

The Definition of Spider Veins

Spider veins, medically known as telangiectasia, are thin blood vessels that appear in dense clusters on the outermost layers of the skin, just between the dermis and epidermis. They might be red, blue, or purple, and they usually appear on the lower extremities of the body, such as the legs and feet, but they can also appear on the face and other body parts. Most patients describe them as thin spider legs or spider webs on the skin’s surface, which explains their colloquial name.

In most cases, spider veins aren’t accompanied by harsh symptoms, but you must consult reliable vein centers in Maryland because they often indicate underlying chronic venous insufficiency.

What Causes Spider Veins?

Spider veins are extremely common, and over half of all Americans develop spider veins at some point. The risk of spider veins is even higher amongst women than in men, and the risk increases as you grow older. The primary root cause of spider veins is usually a medical condition known as chronic venous insufficiency. But to understand the root cause of spider veins, you must understand how blood circulation works.

The human body contains two types of blood vessels — arteries and veins. The arteries carry blood from the heart to the legs and other body parts, and the veins carry deoxygenated blood from various body parts to the heart. The leg veins must carry blood upwards against the force of gravity, so they contain valves that act as one-way doors, ensuring smooth one-way blood circulation to the heart.

Chronic venous insufficiency is a medical condition wherein the vein valves collapse or malfunction. Consequently, blood flows backward because of gravity and accumulates in the leg veins. The continued accumulation of blood in leg veins leads to vascular dilation, damaged blood vessels, and the eventual formation of spider veins on the skin’s surface. Your spider veins might also be accompanied by restless leg syndrome, frequent leg cramps, and leg heaviness.

Risk Factors for Spider Veins

Over half of all Americans suffer from spider veins, but some individuals have a higher risk than others. Understanding your risk of spider veins allows you to remain vigilant and proactive, and, in some cases, you can also adopt lifestyle changes that minimize the risk of vein problems.

The following are the primary risk factors for spider veins:

  • Age: The risk of vein problems increases as you get older.
  • Biological Sex: Women have a higher risk of spider veins because a higher volume of estrogen and progesterone in the body leads to weakening vein valves. For that reason, the risk of spider veins is even higher amongst pregnant women, those taking birth control pills, and those undergoing hormone therapy.
  • Genetics: If your mom and dad have a history of vein problems, there’s a 90% chance that you will also develop spider veins at some point.
  • Medical History: Individuals with a history of vein problems and deep vein thrombosis have a pretty high risk of vein disease recurrence.
  • Sedentary Occupation: You have a high risk of spider veins if your job involves long periods of sitting or standing still. That’s why spider veins are particularly common amongst teachers, nurses, drivers, pilots, and some healthcare workers.

Symptoms of Spider Veins

Most patients seek spider vein treatments because they don’t like how they look — dense clusters of damaged blood vessels on the skin’s surface. In most cases, spider veins are asymptomatic, i.e., they don’t cause major problems or complications. But if your spider veins are caused by underlying venous insufficiency, you may also experience the signs and symptoms of vein disease.

The following are some of the most common symptoms of spider veins:

  • Leg heaviness
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Frequent leg cramps
  • Leg pain
  • Swollen ankles and feet
  • Skin discoloration
  • Poorly-healing leg wounds
  • Inflammation of fat tissues
  • Large, bulging varicose veins

Direct Cause of Spider Veins

The direct cause of spider veins is excess venous pressure, usually because of underlying chronic venous insufficiency. When excess pressure builds within veins, some of the blood may leak out of the vessel and trickle into different directions, leading to the appearance of spider veins underneath the skin’s surface. However, chronic venous insufficiency and damaged vein valves are the primary root causes of spider veins.

Spider Vein Treatments

As mentioned previously, spider veins are often asymptomatic, but they can also indicate chronic venous insufficiency. You should only consult board-certified vein doctors who thoroughly diagnose and treat the root cause of spider veins. Most vein centers and medical spas treat spider veins without investigating the root cause, inevitably leading to vein disease recurrence down the line. The Maryland Vein Center always performs a thorough investigation to identify and treat the root cause of spider veins using the latest, safest, minimally invasive treatments.


The vein doctor injects a sclerosant medicine into spider veins to irritate their vein walls, turning them into hardened scar tissues eventually absorbed by the body. The unwanted spider veins gradually fade away from the skin’s surface within a few weeks.

Radiofrequency Ablation

The vein doctor makes a small incision on the skin’s surface to insert a catheter that generates radiofrequency waves and destroys the diseased vein responsible for your spider veins, rerouting the accumulated blood into healthier leg veins. This procedure treats underlying chronic venous insufficiency.

Endоvеnоuѕ Lаѕеr

The vein doctor makes a small incision on the skin’s surface to insert a laser fiber that generates laser energy and destroys the problematic vein responsible for your vein problems, rerouting the accumulated blood into healthier leg veins. This procedure treats underlying chronic venous insufficiency.


The vein doctor injects a medical-grade adhesive into the diseased saphenous vein responsible for your vein problems. The diseased vein is eventually absorbed by the body, and the accumulated blood reroutes into healthier leg veins. This procedure treats underlying chronic venous insufficiency.

Physical Activity

As discussed previously, spider veins and underlying vein disease escalate because of a sedentary lifestyle. If you don’t move your legs frequently, blood may accumulate in the leg veins, increasing the symptoms of vein disease. If you want to alleviate the symptoms of spider veins and vein disease, you can engage in cardiovascular exercises that work your calf muscles, such as running, swimming, cycling, and yoga. These exercises will reduce your symptoms and improve blood circulation to the heart.

Compression Stockings

Tightly-fitting compression garments apply pressure on the leg veins, pushing some of the accumulated blood towards the heart. You must wear correctly sized compression stockings for them to work. The vein doctors at our vein centers can provide the right-sized compression stockings for you. But please remember that compression stockings may alleviate some of the symptoms of vein disease and potentially prevent the formation of new spider veins, but they can’t treat existing spider veins or underlying vein disease.