Spider Veins

Spider veins are thread-like blood vessels that develop on the face or legs and often look red. They usually don’t cause pain or other symptoms, but if you want to improve their appearance, we can help.

Spider veins: Why choose Henry Ford?

Specialists at Henry Ford provide expert care and the latest advances for spider veins. We offer effective, noninvasive treatment to help fade spider veins and improve the look of your skin.

People come to us for our:

  • Care from multiple specialties: Our board-certified specialists in cosmetic surgery, dermatology and vascular medicine provide comprehensive treatment for spider veins. You work with providers who have experience in vein care that helps improve how your skin looks.
  • Experience with treatments that avoid surgery: Our doctors offer expertise in noninvasive and minimally invasive treatment for spider veins. We can also treat more complex conditions, such as chronic venous insufficiency and varicose veins, that can occur with spider veins.
  • Locations close to home and work: With locations throughout southeast and south central Michigan, we make it easy for you to access our services.
  • What are spider veins?

    Spider veins, also called telangiectasia, are widened blood vessels that sit just under the skin’s surface and look like tiny spider webs. They’re often red but can also be blue or purple. They can appear anywhere on the body, though they mostly affect the legs and face.

    Spider veins are similar to varicose veins but have milder signs and symptoms. People can have both spider and varicose veins.

    Treatment for spider veins is usually considered cosmetic and elective, meaning you can choose to pursue it, but it’s not medically necessary. You may therefore need to pay out-of-pocket. Because varicose veins may cause greater pain and discomfort, insurance companies tend to cover their treatment.

  • What causes spider veins?

    The causes of spider veins vary and depend on whether they develop on your face or your legs. Spider veins on the legs occur because valves inside veins have stopped working. Facial spider veins happen when tiny veins burst because of increased pressure.

    Causes of spider veins in the legs

    Similar to varicose veins, spider veins in the legs mainly result from trapped blood. Normally, veins return blood from the body to the heart, with muscles contracting in the legs to help this process.

    Valves inside the veins open to send blood toward the heart and close to prevent it from coming back down the legs. When vein valves become weak or damaged, they allow blood to leak back and pool in the veins. Several factors can increase your risk of spider veins in the legs, such as:

    • Family history of varicose veins
    • Hormone therapy, such as hormonal birth control methods or postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy
    • Lack of movement, such as standing still or sitting for long periods of time
    • Obesity or excess weight
    • Older age
    • Pregnancy
    • Trauma to or pressure on the area

    Causes of spider veins on the face

    Factors that can cause spider veins on the face include:

    • Dermatomyositis, a type of skin inflammation
    • Gene mutations (changes) that can be inherited from one or both parents
    • Long-term use of steroid creams
    • Rosacea, a skin condition that causes a flushed appearance on the cheeks and nose
    • Sun exposure
    • Systemic lupus erythematosus, an autoimmune disease that causes a facial rash
    • Trauma to the area
  • Symptoms of spider veins

    Spider veins may cause discomfort, but those that occur on the skin usually do not cause major symptoms.

    The most common signs and symptoms of spider veins are:

    • Itching
    • Pain
    • Thin, flat lines on the skin that usually appear red (but can also look blue or purple)
  • How do doctors diagnose spider veins?

    Our specialists usually diagnose spider veins with a physical exam. They look for the telltale pattern of thin, red lines on your skin. They also ask you about your symptoms and your personal and family health history.

    Sometimes, we use additional testing to check for issues such as:

    • Blood clots
    • Leaking valves in leg veins
    • Other conditions potentially causing the problem

    Imaging for spider veins

    We may need to take scans to help us make a diagnosis. If so, you work with certified imaging technologists in our nationally accredited vascular testing labs.

  • Spider veins treatment at Henry Ford

    Our specialists provide the latest treatments for spider veins, beginning with recommendations for lifestyle changes and self-care.

    Healthy lifestyle habits

    Small lifestyle changes can improve blood flow, keep existing spider veins from getting worse and help prevent new ones. Our team includes vascular medicine specialists with years of experience helping people develop realistic goals to:

    • Stay physically active to maintain blood circulation in the legs and help lose weight
    • Maintain a healthy weight

    Self-care for spider veins

    You can take action at home with these self-care steps for spider veins:

    • Wear compression stockings to help with blood flow
    • Change your position about every hour to avoid sitting or standing in one position for too long
    • Elevate your legs above your heart three to four times per day for 15 minutes each time

    Nonsurgical treatments for spider veins

    If you experience symptoms from spider veins or want to improve your skin’s appearance, our doctors offer the latest treatments.

    These procedures close off spider veins without disrupting blood flow, which goes to other, healthy veins. We perform both treatments in our offices as outpatient procedures. You may need several treatment sessions to receive the full benefit:

    • Sclerotherapy: We treat spider veins on the legs with sclerotherapy. Your doctor injects a chemical solution into the affected veins, which causes them to collapse and gradually fade away.
    • Surface laser therapy: To treat facial spider veins, your doctor applies a handheld laser to the affected section of skin. The laser uses bursts of light to collapse the affected vein, which gradually fades.
  • Follow-up care for spider veins

    Spider veins can recur (come back) even after successful treatment. You can see our vascular medicine specialists for long-term management after procedures.

Take the next step

Let us help schedule an appointment with a vascular doctor.

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