Spider veins and varicose veins are an unsightly problem caused when veins grow weak and can no longer effectively move blood from one section of the vein to another while fighting gravity. The blood pools in weak areas instead of moving its way back to the heart as part of the circulatory system. Spider veins, the lesser of the two, looks like a faint bruise with spiderlike lines. Varicose veins, on the other hand, are much more noticeable and can be quite painful. The veins can become twisted and even appear to knot as they bulge under the skin.
Are varicose and spider veins hereditary?
While one of the increased risk factors for getting both spider and varicose veins is a family history of them, it is not the only way a person can get varicose veins or spider veins. Luckily, it is also not a guarantee that you will inherit them.
What causes varicose and spider veins?
While there is no one thing that causes varicose and spider veins, doctors believe that, in addition to heredity, you can have these vein issues due to being overweight as well as sitting or standing in one position for too long. Weight, excessive standing, and excessive sitting all put pressure on your veins forcing them to work harder to get their job done. Certain segments of the populations are also more prone to getting varicose veins, namely pregnant women and the elderly, as you have a higher chance of getting varicose and spider veins as you age.
Is there anything I can do to prevent or heal things on my own?
Good, regular exercise that gets you up and moving can help both you and your veins become healthy overall. If you feel that your weight is partly to blame for your spider veins, then exercising combined with weight loss should help the situation. Unfortunately, losing weight only prevents further spider veins and varicose veins. It will not erase the ones that you already have. The only exception is when it occurs during pregnancy. Those veins will revert to normal some time after the patient gives birth.
If you feel that your veins may be due to excessive standing or sitting, try moving around more throughout the day. If you sit at a desk all day, try to use one that can be raised and lowered so you can switch between sitting and standing positions frequently. You can also choose to elevate your feet on a small stool.
Lastly, compression stockings and sensible, supportive shoes can alleviate some of the pain associated with varicose and spider veins. This is not the best time to try out stilettos, as they can only exasperate the pain.
Will my insurance cover treatment?
This answer really depends on your personal insurance policy. As a general rule, most insurance companies consider varicose and spider vein removal to be a cosmetic procedure and, therefore, are not covered under health insurance. The exception, however, is when veins cause the patient pain, and then it becomes a medically necessary procedure.
How do doctors treat varicose veins?
As recently as the 1990s, the method preferred by doctors to remove varicose veins was an outpatient procedure, called vein stripping, where tiny incisions were made along the inside of the leg through which the doctor would remove segments of the vein. Today, however, the procedure is even more streamlined with most physicians preferring to inject the veins with a solution that dissolves the vein. There are more veins deeper in the legs that carry the bulk of the blood and they just automatically take over the work when varicose veins are removed.
As with anything, self-care is important. Taking care of yourself with good diet and exercise as well as staying mobile throughout the day will help keep varicose and spider veins at bay. When it's not enough, see your physician to come up with a plan together for pain-free spider vein treatment.