Spider veins, or telangectasias, are fine, reddish or bluish veins visible just under the skin. These veins can appear anywhere in the body but are most commonly seen in the face (around the nose and cheeks) and in the legs.
In the legs, spider veins are commonly due to venous hypertension, or increased pressure in the veins of the legs.
Risk factors for developing spider veins in the legs include:
- Age, especially between 50 to 60 years of age
- Female gender
- Lifestyle factors
- Multiple pregnancies
Spider veins rarely cause any significant symptoms by themselves. However, the presence of these veins may signify underlying venous hypertension in the larger veins in the legs. These may cause symptoms of calf pain and tightness, calf cramps and leg swelling.
A duplex ultrasound scan is done to exclude venous hypertension in the main veins of the legs, both the superficial and deep veins. If there are documented abnormalities in these veins, these will need to be treated prior to addressing the spider veins. Failure to treat the underlying venous hypertension will lead to recurrence of the spider veins.
Spider veins from 0.5 to 2mm can be treated by injection sclerotherapy. This involves injecting a chemical agent into the spider veins to cause the veins to shrink and eventually disappear.
Smaller spider veins less than 0.5mm can be treated with either laser sclerotherapy or with Veingogh. Both these methods deliver energy through the skin to the veins to cause the veins to shrink.
Generally, between 3 to 6 sessions will be required to treat the spider veins.