Spider veins are one of the most common types of visible veins, but while they are completely natural, not everyone will get them. In fact, in the United States, 20% of men and 15% of women, on average, will never experience spider veins. Wondering why you happen to be one of the 80-85% who do have spider veins?
While it would be nice to have a simple, straightforward answer, the reality is anything but that. The root cause of spider veins is simply damaged blood valves, but there are a host of factors that come together to increase the risk of valves becoming damaged in the first place and any one of those factors may also be modified by genetics. In other words, the matter is complex, so let’s dive into this web. Here, we shed some light on the impact of damaged valves, some of the most common factors that lead to spider veins, and how you might minimize their appearance.
One of the most common types of visible veins, spider veins are small, superficial veins located between the inner and outer layers of skin. Spider veins often appear thin, in a web-like pattern, and blue or purple in color. They commonly appear on the legs but can certainly develop in other areas of the body depending on blood circulation, which is, after all, the root cause of both these visible veins and varicose veins. In fact, spider veins can be an early warning sign of varicose veins, which may require surgical intervention.
Spider veins are the effect of a damaged blood valve. Generally speaking, in a typical, healthy body, the heart is responsible for pumping blood through the entire body, delivering oxygen and nutrients to cells through blood vessels. Starting from the heart, blood circulates outward to the legs, arms, and head via arteries and is pumped back to the heart via veins. In your veins, there are little valves that help to keep blood flowing in one direction, back towards the heart. If a valve is weakened or damaged, blood falls back downward and may pool, causing the appearance of spider and varicose veins. While visible veins generally aren’t a medical concern—spider veins, in particular, are simply superficial after all—they may certainly cause cosmetic concern for many.
So, what factors may increase your risk of damaged valves and the resulting development of spider veins?
While it may be tempting to add massaging or dry brushing to your below-the-belt beauty care to theoretically promote circulation and reduce the appearance of spider veins, these treatments are unlikely to be effective. This is because the main concern is damaged valves within the veins. Once valves are weakened, the damage can’t be undone. However, aesthetic treatments can help to reduce the appearance of superficial spider veins and broken blood vessels by targeting pigment within the vein.
Powered by Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) technology, Venus Versa™ photofacial treatments can effectively reduce the appearance of spider veins. Targeting pigment under the skin’s surface, within the vein itself, these photofacial treatments deliver thermal (heat) energy, causing superficial spider veins to contract, scar over, and fade. With a customized plan, photofacial treatments may be adapted to suit your needs, whether you’re treating spider veins on the legs or vascular marks on the face. Because spider veins are linked to blood flow, new ones may pop up or treated veins may appear to “return.” For this reason, maintenance treatments may be required. Your treatment provider will provide more insight into a recommended treatment plan to meet your long-term aesthetic needs.
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