Well, first let’s figure out what spider veins are. They are definitely not the same as varicose veins–those lumpy, dark, sometimes uncomfortable or even painful, gnarled-looking veins that can appear on your legs, arms, or other places. Spider veins are much smaller and usually a brighter blue or reddish color as opposed to the dark gray-blue or brown of varicose veins. They’re due to weak vein walls and valves.
Anyway, the online Free Medical Dictionary defines a spider vein as–are you ready? a telangiectasia. Now you feel better that we cleared that up, right? NOT.
Looking a little further, it defines a telangiectasia (pronounced tel-an″je-ek-ta´zhah) as a condition of “permanent dilation of preexisting small blood vessels, creating focal red lesions.” Now a “focal lesion” just means you’ve developed an injury or infection in a specific area of tissue. And that’s where this definition comes in: spider telangiectasia (or vascular spider) is a spider vein that’s caused by enlarging or branching out of superficial blood vessels on your skin.
So, we know that spider veins are considered an injury. That they involve the small blood vessels in a certain area of your body. We know they often have a bright red central area with spider-leg-looking branches coming out. And we know, especially if we have them ourselves, that the ones people might notice most are those that occur around the ankles and lower legs (they can get really outrageous as you grow older), and the ones that can occur on someone’s face. That’s enough. Now about the heredity.
Who gets spider veins? Well, many people develop them as part of getting older, though pregnancy and liver disease can cause them, too. But are spider veins hereditary? Most doctors believe we can inherit a tendency to weak vein walls and faulty blood flow valves, which would predispose us to develop spider veins–and just as likely varicose veins. Did your mom or grandmother have spider veins? You may well get them, too, sometimes as early as your 20s or 30s. And they might also get bigger over the years than someone who didn’t inherit the weak walls.
But take heart. Spider veins can be treated in outpatient settings, and you can restore the youthful look to your legs and avoid getting worse and worse as you grow older. Vein treatment procedures such as sclerotherapy can be done in your doctor’s office. In some cases, you can watch the spider veins disappear as the treatment is done!
Talk to a professional vein health specialist to find out what your options are. And thank heavens you live today when you can get easily get advanced vein treatments from highly trained vein specialists.
By Barbara Payne
Vein-treatment.com blogging team