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Dallas Podiatry Works

Spider Veins

As you age, you may begin to notice thin, web-like veins appearing beneath the surface of the skin.  While these “spider veins” are not serious, they can be bothersome.  Understanding the causes of these visible veins will put your mind at ease, and help you to understand what you can do to prevent them in the future.

I’m not sure if I have spider veins or varicose veins.  What are the differences?

The main difference between the two is their appearance.  While spider veins are thin, varicose veins take on the appearance of a cord and bulge beneath the skin.  Another difference is their location.  Varicose veins are found in the thighs, inner legs, and calves.  Spider veins are typically on the face, legs, and feet.  Both types of veins can be caused by blood backing up into the veins, however, spider veins are also caused by the sun, hormonal variances, and injuries.

Spider VeinsVaricose Veins

                Spider Veins                                                Varicose Veins

How did I develop spider veins?

Weakened veins allow blood to flow back into them and cause blood to collect making the veins visible.  If you have a job that necessitates standing for long hours, you may develop spider veins as a result.  The walls of the veins weaken under the constant stress of standing.  Pregnancy can have a similar effect.

Heredity can also play a role in who will develop this condition.  If heart disease or blood clots have occurred in your family, you may be more likely to have spider veins.  This is true for about 50% of people that have these visible veins.

If you are over the age of 50, you are more likely to experience these web-like veins.  Hormonal changes, especially in women, play a role in this.  Weight gain is another factor. 

How can I prevent spider veins?

The best answer to this question can be summed up in one word—move!  Change positions often.  Sitting or standing for too long can exacerbate this problem.  If you have to sit, do ankle circles or flex your feet, and put your feet up to improve blood flow.  Crossing your legs has the opposite effect, so avoid this habit.  If you’re standing, don’t stay in one spot.  Instead, move around. 

Exercising daily is another great way to keep spider veins away!  Simply walking, or performing some other workout will improve the blood flow in your feet and legs.  Remember, you’re targeting your lower extremities, so make sure your exercise routine has you on your feet.

Every pound of weight equals greater stress on your feet and legs.  Monitor your weight, and control it using diet and exercise.  This will help with spider veins, and many other more serious health conditions.  Focus on foods such as vegetables, fiber, fruit, and whole grains.  Avoid foods that are processed and high in sodium.  This can help to reduce venous swelling. 

Dr. Joel W. Brook
Dr. Joel Brook is a board-certified podiatrist and foot and ankle surgeon at Dallas Podiatry Works in TX.