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What causes spider veins on the legs?

This question was asked in Harvester, Missouri and has 10 answer(s) as of 04/02/2013.
What causes spider veins on the legs? I have black veins that are getting worse on both my legs. These veins mostly appear on my legs and not anywhere else.


Doctors Answers (10)

The cause of spider veins is still unknown. However, there are risk factors that increase a person's chances of getting them. Usually, being a woman and having pregnancies are pretty significant risk factors. Abnormal veins usually are more of a problem on the lower limbs because they are under more influence from gravity. The further down on the body, the column of blood in our veins has more pressure at the bottom rather than at the top. So, the legs get the brunt of this effect of gravity.

Spider veins are small superficial veins and dilated capillaries that are typically red or purple in color and are due to increased venous pressure and restricted venous blood flow in the legs. This maybe due to prolonged standing (work related), pregnancies, wearing high heeled shoes, minor traumas, and other causes. If blood in non-circulating superficial veins is "trapped", the blood will be metabolized and the iron released from the blood will appear black in color and may deposit in the skin above the vein resulting in a brown color (hemosiderin staining). The reason for leg veins being more common than other areas of the body is the effect of gravity and the length of distance back to the heart. Spider veins are treated using sclerotherapy injections in the doctors office.

The biggest factor in the development of spider veins is genetics. other factors such as trauma and pregnancy and age play a role.

Actually, I have a Doctor Q&A video on this very subject. Please watch

Veins are hereditary for the most part. Spider veins are normally of no significant consequence. If you have symptoms of leg aching, swelling, restless legs, heaviness or fatigue there may be more of an underlying vein problem. This can be investigated with a venous ultrasound.

Spider veins are very small red, blue or purplish blood vessels that are easily seen under the skin. Again, heredity probably plays a dominant factor in causing spider veins. However, other factors, including gender, and hormonal influences including the use of oral contraceptives or hormonal replacement therapy, may play a role in causing the appearance of spider veins. Spider veins may also be associated with a larger "feeder" vein that may or may not be easily seen on the skin surface. Finally, if one notices a cluster of spider veins around the ankle, be suspicious for the possibility that there may be valve failure in a major leg vein - in this case, an ultrasound study of the leg would answer this question.

Spider veins and reticular veins (the larger blue veins under the skin) occur in the legs but often on the face too as part of the natural aging process almost like wrinkles or skin spots. The actual cause is not totally known but it is believed to be due to changes in the anatomy and physiology of the microcirculation. Varicose veins occur when the valves in the veins do not close properly. Spider veins and reticular veins occur because of yet unknown changes in their structure and function as we age.

Spider veins are the most superficial component of varicose veins- they are connected with deeper veins below the skin. Think of them like the tip of the iceberg.

The term "spider veins" refers to tiny veins in the upper layers of the skin measuring less than 1 mm wide. These vein appear to be dark red due to the venous blood within the veins. The medical term is "telangiectasia". Over the passage of time, the veins in our legs slowly stretch due to the pressure of the blood in the veins. Sometimes the telangiectasia are the only significant problem in the skin. Other times, there are larger veins under the surface of the skin which feed venous blood under pressure into the telangiectasia. If these "feeder veins", properly known as reticular veins, are present, they must be treated in order for treatment of the telangiectasia to be effective.

The most common cause for spider veins is heredity. The good news is that spider vein treatment is far superior to years gone by. Today's treatments are virtually painless with excellent results.

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