Spider and Varicose Veins

Spider and Varicose VeinsBoth spider veins and varicose veins are enlarged, dilated, superficial blood vessels that can appear red or blue. They can occur together or separately.
  • Spider veins are smaller in size and commonly appear on the legs and face. They are about the width of a large hair and may appear as a single vein or in a matted, branched or webbed pattern. Spider veins are commonly treated with laser light or sclerotherapy.
  • Varicose veins are larger and may be raised above the surface of the skin. These may cause pain or discomfort most commonly described as a throbbing or burning sensation. Varicose veins can be treated with sclerotherapy, intravascular laser or radiofrequency. In some cases, unwanted veins are treated surgically by either tying them off or removing them.


The exact cause of dilated blood vessels is not known. Researchers do know that they occur in women more commonly than in men. Possible causes may be:

  • A family history of spider and/or varicose veins
  • Female hormones released in puberty, by birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy or pregnancy
  • An injury
  • Wearing tight hosiery or girdles
  • Sun exposure
  • Other spider or varicose veins

Treatment for unwanted veins is between 50% and 90% effective, depending on the patient and the veins being treated. Because spider vein treatment is usually done for cosmetic reasons, most insurance providers do not cover it. Insurance may, however, cover all or some of the treatment costs for larger veins if there is a medical reason for their treatment. Learn more about sclerotherapy as a treatment option.

Reduce Your Risk

Because some causes, such as heredity, are out of our control, the appearance of unwanted veins can't be completely prevented. That aside, research suggests that the following steps may minimize their appearance:

  • Wearing support hose
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Exercising regularly
  • Eating a low-fat, high-fiber diet
  • Using sunscreen, especially on the face
  • Avoiding high heels

Contact Us

For more information or for a cosmetic consultation, please call 401-444-3489.