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Spider Veins

(Idiopathic Telangiectasias)

By

James D. Douketis

, MD, McMaster University

Reviewed/Revised Dec 2023
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Topic Resources

Spider veins are small, enlarged veins that are visible under the skin.

Appearance of Spider Veins

Many people have spider veins, which are enlarged capillaries. Capillaries are tiny, extremely thin-walled vessels that act as a bridge between arteries (which carry blood away from the heart) and veins Overview of the Venous System Veins return blood to the heart from all the organs of the body. Arteries carry blood with oxygen and nutrients away from the heart to the rest of the body. The large veins parallel the large... read more (which carry blood back to the heart).

Blood Vessels
VIDEO

Spider veins in the legs may be caused by the pressure from blood in varicose veins Varicose Veins Varicose veins are abnormally enlarged superficial veins in the legs. Varicose veins may cause your legs to ache, itch, and feel tired. Doctors can detect varicose veins by examining the skin... read more Varicose Veins , but people without varicose veins may also have spider veins. When people without varicose veins have spider veins, the cause is usually thought to be hormonal factors that are not yet understood. A hormonal cause would explain why spider veins most commonly occur in women, particularly during pregnancy.

Spider veins usually do not cause symptoms, but some people may have pain or burning. Doctors recognize spider veins by their appearance. Tests are not needed.

Treatment of Spider Veins

  • Injection therapy (sclerotherapy)

  • Laser treatment

Spider veins can usually be eliminated by injection therapy Injection therapy (sclerotherapy) Varicose veins are abnormally enlarged superficial veins in the legs. Varicose veins may cause your legs to ache, itch, and feel tired. Doctors can detect varicose veins by examining the skin... read more Injection therapy (sclerotherapy) (sclerotherapy) similar to that done for varicose veins Varicose Veins Varicose veins are abnormally enlarged superficial veins in the legs. Varicose veins may cause your legs to ache, itch, and feel tired. Doctors can detect varicose veins by examining the skin... read more Varicose Veins . In sclerotherapy, a solution, such as sodium tetradecyl sulfate, is injected into each of the spider veins. The solution irritates the spider veins and produces a blood clot that blocks them. Large areas of spider veins (multiple telangiectasias) may require several treatments because the injections are painful. The skin may darken, but this discoloration usually subsides, often completely.

Laser treatment is also effective, but large areas require several treatments. This therapy uses a laser beam to destroy the small veins.

Small spider veins may persist or recur after initial treatment.

Drugs Mentioned In This Article

Generic Name Select Brand Names
Sotradecol
NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: VIEW PROFESSIONAL VERSION
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