Causes & Risk Factors of Spider Veins

What Causes Spider Veins?

Like varicose veins, spider veins are caused by a common medical condition called venous insufficiency. Normally, your veins carry blood from body tissues back to your heart to be replenished with oxygen and then re-circulated throughout your body. To help the blood from your legs flow upward, against gravity, each vein is equipped with tiny, one-way valves. With each pump of the heart, blood travels further through this series of valves. When these valves fail or leak, blood collects or pools, causing the veins to exhibit their characteristic “spider web” appearance.

What are the Risk Factors of Spider Veins?

Spider veins are the result of weak or damaged valves in the veins. When the valves do not open to allow blood to leave the veins, blood backs up and the veins swell. A number of factors increase your risk of developing this condition, including:

  • aging
  • heredity (family history of the condition)
  • a history of blood clots
  • taking oral birth control pills
  • hormonal changes during puberty or menopause, or hormone replacement therapy
  • pregnancy
  • standing or sitting for long periods of time
  • wearing a girdle or clothing that is too tight
  • obesity
  • constipation
  • sun exposure (if you have light skin)

What Can You Do to Help Prevent Spider Veins?

Things you can do to prevent new or additional spider veins include:

  • Don’t cross your legs when you’re sitting down.
  • Try not to sit or stand in one position for a long time.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Avoid wearing high heels.

Additionally, if you already have spider veins, you can minimize your risk of developing more by:

  • Wearing compression support stockings
  • Elevating your legs for 30 minutes several times a day