Spider Veins

Jane Smith, MD -  - Internist

VeinCare of Central North Carolina

Jane Smith, MD

Internist & Phlebologist located in Raleigh, NC

While spider veins are an embarrassing cosmetic problem, they're often a clue to an underlying problem that can be detected by a well-trained vein specialist or by diagnostic testing. Dr. Jane Smith and her clinical team at VeinCare of Central North Carolina have the experience and technical skill to free patients from the troublesome appearance of spider veins. In her Raleigh, North Carolina office, Dr. Smith and her clinical team specialize in sclerotherapy -- the gold-standard treatment for spider veins -- and laser treatments for tiny veins on the face. Call the office today or book your appointment online to learn more.

Spider Veins Q & A

What causes spider veins?

Spider veins, called “telangiectasia,” can occur anywhere on the body and can be caused by:

  • Genetics (family history)
  • Medications that increase female hormones (e.g., birth control pills, fertility drugs)
  • Sun damage
  • Pregnancy
  • Certain autoimmune diseases
  • Chronic skin conditions(notably rosacea)
  • Soft tissue injuries that damage the skin
  • High pressure from underlying diseased reticular veins or varicose veins

While many of these conditions trigger the appearance of spider veins, family history is felt to be at the root of the problem with the abnormal spider veins caused by genetic weakening of the vein walls.

Many people see spider veins as a cosmetic nuisance, unaware that spider veins can cause symptoms (aching, burning, heaviness, throbbing or itching). In older people whose spider veins have become more pronounced over time, the pressure can cause these veins to rupture, typically in the veins around the feet and ankles, causing significant bleeding from the skin.

In the hands of an experienced vein specialist, spider veins can be successfully treated, clearing the skin of these unsightly veins. Unfortunately, because the body continues to produce new veins on an ongoing basis with genetic deterioration persistent, periodic treatment is required to maintain legs free of spider veins.

At VeinCare of Central North Carolina, extensive training and years of experience are the keys to successful treatment by Dr. Jane Smith and her clinical staff.

What’s the difference between varicose and spider veins?

Spider veins are tiny veins that are within the skin itself. They tend to be more widespread because of the complex network of veins in the skin (hence their significant cosmetic impact).

The symptoms of spider veins vary, with some patients complaining of itching and burning at the specific sites of the spider veins, while others experience generalized aching, heaviness, and throbbing in the lower legs.

Varicose veins occur in the layer of veins below the skin surface but just above the muscle. They cause prominent bulges above the skin surface. Varicose veins are large, less widespread than spider veins, and have a direct connection to your deep veins.

Varicose veins cause much more profound symptoms that can severely impact the individual’s quality of life. The symptoms can affect all aspects of an individual’s life including recreational activities, exercise, and travel.  

Symptoms include aching, burning, cramping, fatigue, heaviness, itching, and restlessness. Varicose veins can interfere with sleep, due to leg cramps or leg restlessness. Varicose veins can also make it difficult to sit or stand for prolonged periods of time.

Plus, varicose veins can cause severe complications including edema (leg swelling), blood clots, and severe skin changes of the legs which can result in leg ulcers, delayed wound healing, and hemorrhaging. Many of these complications can be life-threatening.

What are the treatment options for spider veins?

The gold standard for treating spider veins is sclerotherapy.

Dr. Smith or one of her clinical staff inserts a tiny needle into the vein, injecting a soap-like substance which irritates the lining of the vein and causes the vein to swell shut. The vein turns to scar tissue and is reabsorbed by the body over time.

At VeinCare, the medication injected into the vein is a substance called Sotradecol. It's a detergent-like substance, akin to soap, which attacks the fatty particles in the lining of the vein, thereby destroying the vein. Dr. Smith and her team also use Asclera (which is chemically very similar to Sotradecol).

Treatment of spider veins using lasers is far inferior to sclerotherapy. It is less effective, more painful, more costly and requires more treatment. The beam of the laser can't get to the underlying vein-the reticular vein- which is at the root of the spider vein without causing burning of the surrounding skin.

Laser treatment of the tiny veins on the face is often very effective. Occasionally, in unique situations, laser treatment of spider veins on the legs may be considered. Dr. Jane Smith will evaluate you and determine the treatment that is best for you.

If you have varicose or spider veins, Dr. Smith and her clinical team can help. Call or book online.