Blood Home > Spider Veins

Spider veins are smaller and less severe than varicose veins. In addition, they do not generally lead to serious health problems. Risk factors for spider veins include sun exposure, hormonal changes, and standing for long periods of time. They are often treated with sclerotherapy or laser surgery, and most people experience success with these methods.

What Are Spider Veins?

While spider veins are similar to varicose veins, they are smaller and closer to the surface of the skin. These veins are often red or blue, and they can look like tree branches or spider webs with their short, jagged lines. Spider veins can be found on the legs and face. They can cover either a small or large area of skin.
About 50 to 55 percent of American women and 40 to 45 percent of American men suffer from some form of vein problem (spider veins or varicose veins).

What Causes Spider Veins?

The backing up of blood in the veins is the cause of spider veins.
The heart pumps blood filled with oxygen and nutrients to the body. Arteries carry blood from the heart toward the body parts. Veins carry oxygen-poor blood from the body back to the heart.
The squeezing of leg muscles pumps blood back to the heart from the lower body. Veins have valves that act as one-way flaps. These valves prevent the blood from flowing backwards as it moves up the legs. If the one-way valves become weak, blood can leak back into the vein and collect there. This problem is called venous insufficiency.

Where Are They Located?

The force of gravity, the pressure of body weight, and the task of carrying blood from the bottom of the body up to the heart make legs the primary location for spider veins. Compared with other veins in the body, leg veins have the toughest job of carrying blood back to the heart and endure the most pressure. This pressure can be stronger than the veins' one-way valves.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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