Spider Veins and Reticular Veins

Spider veins are tiny red, purplish or bluish veins on the surface of the skin that are less than 1 millimeter in diameter. They are often fed by bluish veins located under the surface of the skin called reticular veins. Reticular veins are slightly larger than spider veins, ranging from 1 to 3 millimeters in diameter.

What are the causes of spider veins?

Venous insufficiency — the inability of veins to properly move blood from the feet up toward the heart — creates elevated pressure in the leg veins. This pressure enlarges the diameter of veins, and these enlarged veins appear as varicose veins, reticular veins and spider veins. Spider veins can be due to hormonal factors such as pregnancy, estrogen therapy, or the application of high dose topical steroids to the skin. They can be the result of injury to the skin such as a bruise or a surgical scar. They can also be seen in association with certain diseases (typically patients with lupus or scleroderma). Finally, hereditary factors are also thought to play a role in their development.

Do spider veins cause symptoms?

Many patients with spider veins have no symptoms, although they can cause burning, itching, throbbing, swelling and leg fatigue.
What is the treatment for spider veins?

Spider veins can be treated conservatively or medically. Conservative treatment in symptomatic patients requires the use of graduated compression stockings. These are specialized stockings that apply high pressure to the feet and ankles and less pressure to the knees and thighs. In doing so, they increase the return of blood to the heart and prevent the pooling of blood in the veins of the feet and legs. Graduated compression stockings will improve symptoms and slow the progression of disease but will not improve the appearance of the leg.

For a better cosmetic result, and more lasting improvement of symptoms, the board-certified interventional radiologists at UR Vein Center offer a medical procedure called sclerotherapy.

Contact UR Vein Center to learn more or to schedule an appointment at our New Brunswick, Warren or Edison locations.