For most people, losing weight can be healthy. But will shedding pounds make your spider veins disappear?
You’ve probably heard that spider veins are a common cosmetic problem. Appearing on the legs, feet, and sometimes the face, those thin, tangled lines of blue and purple can cause pain and a burning sensation, especially after a long period of sitting or standing.
Managing one’s weight can help reduce the uncomfortable symptoms and appearance of spider veins. Unfortunately, losing weight will not eliminate your existing spider veins, as only medical intervention can do that. Nevertheless, maintaining a healthy weight will benefit your veins for many different reasons, which we will explain below.
What are Spider Veins?
Spider veins get their name from their web-like appearance. Unlike varicose veins, spider veins do not bulge and instead lie flat on the skin’s surface. But similar to varicose veins, they indicate chronic venous insufficiency. Venous insufficiency, also known as vein disease, means that blood isn’t flowing properly through your veins. Specifically, one-way valves that move blood upward to the heart weaken and cause blood to backflow into the vein. As blood pools, blue- or purple-colored veins appear through the skin.
Although spider veins can occur on the face, they most commonly occur on the legs and feet. Blood has to work against gravity to pump blood upward. Being overweight places pressure on your veins, making it harder for those valves to close and push blood to the heart. As a result, blood pools in the legs.
How Spider Veins Are Treated
Losing weight can reduce spider veins symptoms, diminish their appearance, and prevent new spider veins from developing. Unfortunately, as mentioned earlier, shedding excess pounds — while great for your overall health — won’t make them disappear entirely. For that, you’ll need a minimally invasive surgical procedure, such as:
Sclerotherapy. Sclerotherapy is the treatment of choice for spider veins. The vein specialist injects a safe solution known as a sclerosant into the spider vein during this procedure. The solution scars the walls of the vein, so the vein collapses and blood diverts to healthy veins. You may need more than one sclerotherapy session to eliminate all spider veins. Still, this procedure is effective in eliminating the appearance of spider veins. Anesthesia is not required, and the only after-effects are slight swelling and bruising that fades quickly.
Spider veins may also be treated with ultrasound-guided foam sclerotherapy. The ultrasound image helps the surgeon guide a needle through the vein as a foam sclerosant is injected.
Endovenous Laser Ablation. During this procedure, laser light is pulsed into the vein to close it. As with sclerotherapy, the vein will then disappear over time as blood moves to healthier veins. A similar procedure uses heat from radiofrequency waves. Short-term redness, itching, and minor swelling typically occur after laser ablation.
These procedures have been successful in eliminating spider veins for decades. Your vein specialist can discuss which one is suitable for you, taking into account the number and size of your spider veins.
Weight management is still an essential component of maintaining your vein health. At the very least, losing weight can reduce symptoms and prevent new spider veins from forming. Low-impact aerobic exercises, such as walking and biking, can melt pounds away while strengthening calf muscles to help push blood through the veins. A diet low in sodium and high in fiber can also keep your weight at an ideal level and improve vein health.
Beyond losing weight, try lifting the strain on your veins by elevating your legs periodically, avoiding standing or sitting for long periods, and wearing loose-fitting clothes. Tight-fitting clothes and shoes tend to block circulation through the veins. Whatever you can do to promote efficient blood flow will help keep your legs and feet smooth and free of unsightly spider veins.
Your Vein Specialist in Massachusetts
Center for Vein Restoration operates a clinic in Framingham supervised by Pamela Kim, MD, RPVI. Dr. Kim is a board-certified Vascular Surgeon with additional certification in General Surgery and Vascular Interpretation. She has the expertise to treat various vascular conditions while prioritizing her patients’ comfort and recovery. Contact her today for a consultation.
463 Worcester Road Suite 205
Framingham, MA 01701