Varicose Veins and Spider Veins
Varicose veins are large, raised, swollen blood vessels that twist and turn. They usually develop in the legs and can be seen through the skin.
Spider veins are smaller, red, purple and blue vessels that are also twisted and turning. Spider veins are easily visible through the skin as well. They are also most often seen on the legs and face.
Spider veins are small superficial blood vessels that appear red or blue in the skin. They commonly occur on the legs, but are also found on the face or other areas of the body.
These dilated blood vessels may be short, unconnected lines, each about the size of a large hair, or connected in a "sunburst" pattern. They may look like a spider web or a tree with branches. Spider veins can occur in a small area where they are not very noticeable, or they can cover a large area of skin and be very unattractive.
Larger dilated blood vessels called varicose veins may be raised above the skin surface. They may occur with spider veins.
Patients can have pain that ranges from dull and throbbing to a burning sensation. The larger vessels are more likely to cause discomfort, although smaller blue veins have been shown to cause pain as well.
If spider veins are bothersome, they can be treated with laser or by injection of a special solution that can destroy them. They can disappear or become much smaller. There is about an 80 - 90 percent chance for a greatly improved appearance.
Can Spider Veins Be Prevented ?
Spider veins cannot always be prevented. Wearing support hose may minimize unwanted blood vessels from developing. Keeping one's weight at a normal level and exercising regularly may be helpful, as well as eating a high-fiber diet and wearing low-heeled shoes. Sun protection is important to limit the number of unwanted vessels on the face.
How Are Unwanted Blood Vessels On The Legs Treated ?
The injection method is a procedure called sclerotherapy. This procedure has been used for spider veins since the 1930's, and before that for larger veins. One of several kinds of solutions called sclerosing solution is injected directly into the blood vessel with a very fine needle. The solution irritates the lining of the vessel causing it to swell, stick together, and the blood to clot. Over a period of weeks, the vessel turns into scar tissue that fades, eventually becoming barely noticeable.
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