Thursday, 7 August 2014

Understanding...Spider Veins

Spider veins are something I know a lot about; I have them and I hate  them. They are completely harmless but visually offensive. What is interesting about spider veins is that, although they are extremely common, they are never really discussed, which makes having them even more upsetting. So it's about time we starting talking about them! Sharing is caring after all...

What are spider veins?

"Spider veins are very small blood vessels close to the surface of the skin" says Dr Peter Morrell from Regency Aesthetics in London. Known medically as Telangiectasias, spider veins can develop on any part of the body but are more common on the face (around the nose, cheeks and chin), upper thigh, ankle and below the knee joint. Spider veins are actually incredibly common; an estimated 30% - 60% of adults have them. They are more common in women than in men and, sadly, spider veins increase with age.

What causes spider veins?

Dr Morrell explains, "The actual cause is unclear but they are thought to have a genetic basis (i.e. they are more common if a first degree relative has them). Exacerbating factors include hormonal factors, such as pregnancy, the use of oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy. They are also made worse by obesity and occupations which require a lot of standing".

How do you treat spider veins?

There are many topical creams on the market that claim to remove spider veins. However Dr Morrell explains that, "although topical creams may reduce the appearance of spider veins by causing vasoconstriction (or making the veins smaller), this will almost certainly be a temporary solution and, once the effect of the cream wears off, the veins will return".

You can wear compression stockings to reduce the size of the veins or make some lifestyle changes - for example lose weight (if needed), follow a low-salt diet and exercise regularly - to help prevent them.

There are ways of removing spider veins completely. "Spider veins may be removed with surgery or with sclerotherapy - a treatment whereby veins are injected with substances to again coagulate the blood and close the vein" says Dr Morrell. You can also have spider veins removed via laser treatment. Laser treatment works by coagulating the haemoglobin molecule in the vein, which clots the vein and causes it to close - then causing blood flow stop and the vein to disappear.

*Regency Aesthetics offer IPL treatment for spider veins which starts at £75.00 per treatment. To find out more visit

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