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What are spider veins a sign of?

This question was asked in Addison, Texas and has 14 answer(s) as of 06/12/2013.
I have little blue veins on my legs and I think they are spider veins. I can see them a few inches above my heel. It may be from the way that I sit or could it be from the type of shoes that I wear? I've never had them before and I have never been warned by my doctor of any health risks or reason why I would get them. What could be wrong causing this?


Doctors Answers (14)

Spider veins usually are a cosmetic concern. However, many individuals will suffer from symptoms like itching, burning, and/or restlessness. You speak of a particular area, the ankle, that was affected by these spider veins. When there is a clustering of spider veins around the ankles, this can be a sign of a potentially larger vein problem, akin to the 'tip of the iceberg' analogy. Often, the trunk veins that lie beneath the skin can leak and cause a great deal of pressure to develop in these veins. Over time, this pressure is exerted into the smaller veins in the skin and can cause them to distend and bulge. Ultrasound is recommended to evaluate these trunk veins to determine if they are in fact abnormal.

Spider veins (telangiectasia) are abnormal veins measuring no more than 1 mm in diameter. They commonly appear around the ankle or on the thighs. Telangiectasia develops as very small veins enlarge over time due to stretching of the vein wall. While some telangiectasia are not associaed with any significant underlying venous disorder, frequently there are enlarging abnormal veins under the surface which feed blood under pressure into the telangiectasia. Thus, "spider veins" often are an early sign of developing venous insufficiency which will worsen with time. Conservative measures may be helpful in slowing down progression, including maintenance of a normal body weight, avoidance of prolonged sitting or standing when feasible, moderate exercise, and use of elastic compression stockings. LASER treatment of spider veins is effective if there are no significant underlying veins. Sclerotherapy is effective in treating spider veins and the common abnormal reticular veins (feeder veins) or varicose veins underlying the spider veins.

Spider veins are tiny red or blue micro vessels on the skin surface. These are cosmetic issues and often form independent of any major venous problem in the leg. If they increase in number, they should be treated early so that they don't become to numerous and cumbersome to treat. If there are other symptoms in the leg, such as pain, fatigue, heaviness or swelling, then an ultrasound should be done to rule out insufficiency in the greater saphenous vein. If that ultrasound is negative for reflux (reversal of flow in the vein) then sclerotherapy can be done with good results. If there is reflux in the GSV then that vein should be closed prior to ANY sclerotherapy. Doing injections with the GSV open and refluxing will be a complete waste of your time and money because the results will be suboptimal.

Spider veins are veins that have become dilated. They are common in the area of the ankle and are not indicative of any major underlying medical problem. It would be unusual for the small blue veins around the ankle to be related to a significant underlying venous abnormality such as saphenous incompetence, but that should be ruled out by your doctor prior to treating. The main causes are a genetic predisposition to vein problems along with sitting or standing type jobs, pregnancy, obesity, and lack of exercise. Also I believe that high healed shoes can contribute. The spider veins are very treatable but you are always at risk for development of new ones. Exercise, compression stockings, and avoiding high healed shoes will help prevent progression of the veins and the development of new ones.

Spider veins can be a sign of chronic venous insufficiency, a vascular condition which causes blood to pool in the legs. This in turn can cause tiny, usually invisible veins under the skin to dilate and become visible as spider veins. Sometimes spider veins can develop on their own, even if the deeper veins are normal. The effects of hormones, time, and gravity can cause the tiny valves in the veins under the skin to fail, allowing blood to back up and result in spider veins. Spider veins are not caused by the type of shoes you wear, but long periods of standing or sitting can lead to spider veins over time. Spider veins commonly occur around the ankles and the sides of the feet. This is because the effect of gravity is greatest in the lower part of the legs. Other common areas for spider veins are the inner and outer thighs. If you have a job that requires sitting at a desk or standing for long periods of time, and you are noticing spider veins, or aching, tiredness, or restlessness of your legs, try wearing 20-30mmHg compression stockings to work. They will make your legs feel better and help slow down the development of new spider veins.

Spider veins are very common in patients. As we age spider veins can occur particularly along the lower portions of the ankle. Some patients do have some underlying vein problems which can initially present as spider veins. Typically when people do have underlying vein problems they develop larger varicosities on the legs. The presence of small spider veins is not a very big health risk and is not associated with any blood clotting problems. Sometimes patients can experience pain associated with these veins. If there is no underlying vein problem then typically these small spider veins can be treated with injection sclerotherapy. The best thing for you to do if you are concerned is to see a vein specialist and they can assess her legs and determine if an ultrasound is needed.

Spider Veins are hereditary. If there are just a few spider veins then there is nothing wrong causing it and they are of no consequence. If you are concerned about the cosmetic appearance they can be injected. If you have increasing number of spider veins, and/or bulging varicose veins there may be an underlying vein problem which can easily be evaluated for with the use of an ultrasound.

Telangiectatic flare around the ankles is usually a sign of venous hypertension resulting from valvular insufficiency in the superficial veins of the legs. When the valves in the veins of the legs are no longer functioning properly (their job is to stop the blood from falling through these valves), then the pressure in the veins goes up (venous hypertension). This pressure is transmitted to smaller veins till they start to show up in the farthest point from the heart (ankles). If you have associated symptoms, i.e. swelling, aching, burning, restless legs, night cramps or any skin discoloration, you should undergo an Ultrasound evaluation to determine if you have "valvular insufficiency."

What you describe is an early sign of more significant venous problems. If you have parents with vein problems there is a strong chance that you will have those problems too. Venous disease has been poorly understood in the past, but in the past ten years there has been amazing advancements in treating and understanding venous disease. You should seek out a trained phlebologist and have this evaluated.

Spider veins may or may not be a sign of underlying more physiologically important vein abnormalities. Now let's speak regular English! The term, "spider veins" refers to tiny (millimeters) dark blue or purple veins that show on the skin surface, sometimes in various formations or "clusters." They are abnormal, caused by a failure of one way flow "valves" within the vein, such that venous blood backwards flow causes enlargement of previously invisible veins of the skin, hence the visible presentation as a blood-filled vein on the skin surface. Though abnormal, the consequences of spider veins may be minimal, such that general health is not necessarily improved by their removal. On the other hand, spider veins may hurt, or itch, or even bleed; thus, sometimes spider vein treatments are indicated for lifestyle reasons that go beyond cosmetic concerns. Finally, spider veins can sometimes be a superficial sign of a more important abnormality of the larger veins below the skin. If these larger veins are abnormal, treatment of the larger veins may be indicated for reasons that generally have to do with improvement of the overall blood circulation in the legs and protection of the skin of the legs from unhealthful consequences of insufficient vein function. The easiest way to tell if there are greater venous concerns, in most cases, is the presence of bulging varicose veins, along with the spider veins. The best way to find out, however, is to get an experienced physician to take a look. In the meantime, use compression hose whenever possible and elevate the legs when sitting, if possible. There is not much you can effectively do about the way you sit... at least not worth changing unless a physician specifically advised you to change this! I doubt the shoes play a role. Bottom line: it is time for you to see an expert vein doctor.

Spider veins, aka telangiectasias, are almost always totally benign collections of very small venues in the dermis, as a result of aging, genetic predisposition, etc. They can be a result of venous hypertension, or insufficient veins, but at this stage rarely are they symptomatic.

Spider veins didn't come from nowhere. They are connected through other larger (below the skin) veins to a defective large vein called the saphenous vein. This saphenous vein is most likely the source of the spider veins, therefore it needs to be evaluated and treated by a vein specialist. This is not a life/threatening condition but the longer patients postpone treatment, the worse it'll get.

They really are not a sign of anything bad. If there is swelling or pain it may be a sign of another problem, but usually spider veins are not a serious problem.

Spider Veins are a sign of venous insufficiency which means poor or backward flow in the veins. The venous insufficiency could be just in the veins in the skin or it could be in the larger veins below the skin such as the saphenous vein. If there is venous insufficiency in the deeper veins there may be some health risk associated with the underlying condition. The risk of spider veins is somewhat increased with prolonged sitting, but genetics play a larger role.

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