Legs are both transportation devices and seduction tools. Aging, pregnancies and our occidental lifestyle, put an early burden on our legs. Some little blue and red veins appear under our skin. They look like spider webs, or parallel lines on the inside of our knees or anywhere on our thighs. We tend to panic. We no longer wear skirts or dresses and stay with pants even in the summer. Beach parties become a problem.
Solutions exist, simple and easy to implement, most of the time relatively painless. So, don’t wait ! You should consult for these little veins to get rid of them and enjoy showing your legs again.
Frequently asked questions
What are varicose veins or spider veins?
Our heart pumps oxygenated blood (red) to our organs through arteries. Our organs use that oxygen and send back deoxygenated blood (blue) to the lungs through veins. These veins carry blood using a simple mechanism: gravity, low pressure and small valves. These valves prevent the venous blood from falling back toward the ground. If these leg valves are not closing well, blood is going to accumulate toward the bottom of our legs, pressure increases and veins become inflated with stagnating blood. Ultimately, small and very thin veins in our dermis (spider veins) become charged with blood and end up showing through the skin. When at some location the walls of a vein become fragile and expand: it creates a varicosed section of that vein.
Varicose veins are usually protruding from the surface of our skin, are purple or blue, have a snake or laces like effect. Most of the time found on the back of our lower legs going down to the ankle. During pregnancy, some varicose veins called hemorrhoids develop in the perinea.
Varicosities are similar to varicose veins but are smaller and thinner. They don’t protrude from the surface of the skin. They look like branches of a tree or spider webs. These small and thin veins usually show up on thighs, legs and face.
Is it frequent?
In industrialized nations varicose veins and spider veins are quite frequent. About 60% of the population with a higher prevalence in women (50%). After the age of 50, half of the women will be affected.
What is the cause?
Not well known. Some risk factors may explain the disease:
Genetic, (born with fragile valves) is the most important one.
- Hormones play a role. Changing hormones during puberty, pregnancy and menopause as well as hormone replacement therapies (HRT) and pills could facilitate varicose/spider veins development. During pregnancy, hormones rise and blood flow increases leading to a possible weak vein inflation. In general, these varicose veins caused by a pregnancy, tend to disappear within 3 months although some spider veins or abnormal veins could remain.
Other risk factors are:
- Traumas on lower limbs
- Prolongated standing (job related : i.e. nurses)
Some thin red varicose veins could appear on the edge of the nose, on the cheeks or sideburns of fair skin people who have been repeatedly exposed to long and violent sun without protection.
Why do varicose veins/spider veins show up on legs first?
In a stand up position, our leg veins have a difficult job of sending blood back to the chest against gravity.
Pressure is high. Fighting on a long distance against gravity is a complicated task with an active mechanism.
Since the specific job of sending that blood back is purely passive, our body has a couple of tools to do it. First we have some sort a blood lake in our feet, right where we put the feet on the ground. This “blood sponge” gets flattened each time our foot touches the ground, this sends the amount of blood collected there upward. Then, the more we walk, the more blood flows up. Remember that we have tiny valves in our veins preventing this packet of blood from going back down. So our blood goes back up, “step by step”. If some of our valves are weak and blood flows back through, then we get an inflated vein somewhere or more blood in a vein network in that area. It will show inevitably either as a varicose vein, big and blue or as a spider vein network under the skin.
Are varicose/spider veins painful?
There is no effective medical treatment for varicose/spider veins. When these veins inflate they can create a heavy leg feel, a reduction in mobility. Leg volume can increase, in conjunction with a warm feel. Although sever pain is rarely described, cramps may become more frequent. The skin may itch more and in case of a trauma, scabbing may be difficult sometimes skin ulcers may appear.
In some cases, if varicose veins are severe a medical or surgical treatment may be offered. In case of obstructed veins, in presence of a thrombosis and/or infections, an intervention may be the best strategy. It will lead to the removal of a large section of a leg vein leaving the peripheral veins do the job. The main danger in case of a thrombosis is the possibility of seeing a tiny bit of a thrombus (blood clot) leave off the diseased vein and flow through the system up to the heart or the lungs which could have very serious consequences.