General Information about abnormal leg veins, varicose veins, spider veins, treatment for veins

General information about abnormal leg veins

Dilated blood vessels (spider like in appearance)  can appear on any surface of the body but are particularly common on the legs. They may be visible as short, seemingly unconnected lines each about the size of a large hair or they may resemble a spider web or tree with branches. These "spider" veins usually occur in association with larger dilated blood vessels (often blue / green in colour) called reticular veins. Varicose veins are larger veins that bulge above the skin surface. Varicose veins are often found in association with deeper vein problems. If there is a deeper vein problem this will be diagnosed on your initial consultation after examination with an ultrasound machine.

Often dilated blood vessels cause aching, especially with prolonged standing. Although these abnormal dilated blood vessels do carry blood they are not very efficient and are often not necessary to the circulatory system. The body will have already established an alternative route for the blood to travel back more efficiently to the heart. Thus they can be treated without damaging the circulation (Treatment of varicose veins will also usually relieve any symptoms caused by the veins).

What causes these blood vessels to become visible?

The cause is not known, except that in many cases they seem to have a genetic link. Varicose veins occur in both men and women, but more frequently in women. The hormone oestrogen may play a role in their development because puberty and pregnancy often seem to bring them on. During pregnancy the enlarged uterus may also restrict blood flow contributing to their development. Spider veins may also occur after trauma to a certain area of the body or as a result of wearing tight girdles. They also appear to be associated with obesity and occupations involving prolonged standing. When they occur on the face, spider veins may be related to chronic sun exposure, alcohol or exposure to extremes of temperature. These facial veins are not treated at  The Leg Vein Clinic, Gold Coast.

Can vein problems be prevented?

There is no known method of prevention. Wearing specialised venous support stockings may prevent some dilated blood vessels from developing in some people. Maintaining a normal weight, regular exercise, avoiding constipation and avoiding wearing high-heeled shoes may also be helpful.  See more in our blog articles about caring for your legs.

Look at treatment options for leg veins, varicose veins and spider veins here.

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Dr Varcoe is an Accredited EVLA PractitionerAustralian and New Zealand Society of Phlebology
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