Are Spider Veins Genetic? | by Dr. Carabasi

Written By Tony Carabasi III, MD, FACS

Spider veins, the kissing cousins of varicose veins, can be as much of a cosmetic nuisance as their bulging counterparts. These red and blue lines often form networks on the skin’s surface that resemble a web or tree branches. Like varicose veins, they frequently appear on the legs, often behind the knee. However, spider veins can show up other places as well, including other visible locations like the arms and face. While heredity can play a role in your likelihood of developing spider veins, there are many other factors to consider as well.

Why Spider Veins Form

Spider veins are small veins close to the surface of the skin that have more blood flowing through them than they can handle. This results in enlargement of the vessels or slight leakage of blood from the vessel that becomes visible on the skin’s surface. The networks can remain small or they can become quite large, often resembling an unsightly bruise.

In some cases, the veins are not linked to any other vein disorder. Other times, the spider veins may be a visible symptom of an underlying vein condition known as chronic venous insufficiency or CVI. If CVI is present, you may notice varicose veins forming in the same area as the spider veins. You may also experience physical symptoms along with your spider veins, such as pain and swelling of the lower leg.

The Gene Factor

While we are unsure exactly how genetics influence a person’s likelihood of developing spider veins, there does indeed appear to be a hereditary link for some people. This means that if your grandparents or parents had a significant number of spider veins, you are more likely to have them as well. It is possible certain genes play a role in weaker veins, which could be more likely to become damaged. It is also possible that underlying conditions like CVI and varicose veins are hereditary, which could put you at higher risk for spider veins as well.

The good news is that if you know you have a family history of spider veins or other vein disorders, you can take steps to lower your risk for the same conditions. While preventative steps won’t guarantee you will never develop at least a few of those visible vessels, it could cut your risk by a significant amount. At Center for Vein Restoration, we can help you keep your veins as healthy as possible to reduce the likelihood of vessel damage.

It is also helpful to know that if you are a victim of your genetic makeup, there are plenty of effective treatments to eliminate spider veins today. These treatments, which we will discuss in more detail later on, are minimally-invasive so you don’t have to worry about taking too much time out of your busy schedule to say goodbye to those unsightly spider veins.

Other Causes

In addition to genetics, there are a number of other factors that can lead to the formation of spider veins. These include:

-Hormonal fluctuations – which is why women are more likely to develop them during pregnancy or menopause
-Birth control pills – also a result of fluctuating hormone levels
-Sun exposure – heading out without proper protection opens the door to different types of skin damage, including spider veins – especially if you have fair skin
-Skin trauma – injuries to the skin can also cause injuries to superficial vessels to make them more visible

Are You at Risk?

In addition to your genetic makeup, there are other factors that could put you at higher risk for spider veins, including:

-Age – spider veins are much more common in the over-50 set
-Gender – although both men and women get spider veins, they are more common among women
-Weight gain – additional pounds put additional pressure on the veins, making them more vulnerable to damage
-Standing – occupations that require long periods on your feet also put you at higher risk for spider veins
-Sedentary lifestyle – if you are not working those calf muscles regularly, they can’t provide sufficient support to lower leg veins to keep them healthy
-Personal history – a personal history of vein disorders or blood clots may also make you more prone to developing spider veins

Preventing Spider Veins

If you are at higher risk for spider veins, or if you simply want to do everything possible to keep those visible veins at bay, here are a few steps to consider:

-Get a daily walk in to keep your calf muscles and your veins in top condition
-Maintain a healthy weight to keep pressure off the veins
-If you sit or stand most of the day, take frequent breaks to exercise your legs
-Elevate your legs above heart level for a period of time at the end of every day
-Never go outdoors without proper sun protection
-Consider compression stockings to promote healthy blood flow and healthy vessels

Seeking Treatment

If, despite your best efforts, you do see a few of these visible networks begin to appear, take heart. At Center for Vein Restoration, we offer proven and state-of-the-art spider vein treatments to eliminate those unsightly veins with minimal discomfort and downtime. With more than one treatment to choose from, we can customize your procedure to your specific needs for the best possible results.

Sclerotherapy is an injectable treatment that continues to be considered the “gold standard” in spider vein elimination. The procedure injects a sterile solution into the affected vein that causes it to seal closed. The vein is gradually eliminated through the body’s natural processes and blood is rerouted to healthy veins nearby.

Other spider vein treatments use state-of-the-art technology like lasers and controlled heating to destroy the affected vessels so they can be reabsorbed by the body. These procedures, like sclerotherapy, are performed in just a few minutes time in our office and most do not require any type of downtime afterward. Some patients may need more than one treatment session to achieve their full results.

No matter what the cause of your spider veins, there is no doubt those unsightly networks could be creating a cosmetic nuisance worthy of treatment. If you would like to eliminate your spider veins, contact Center for Vein Restoration today to find out which vein treatment is the right one for you.

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