Know Your Risk Factors for Spider Veins

Women showing varicose and spider veins on the skin of leg If one or more of your family members has spider veins, you might think that you will inevitably see them on your legs at some point, too. While some studies do support this notion, there are some risk factors that are within your control. Research suggests that about 90% of people who have spider veins also have at least one family member with them as well. But our genes are only one factor of several. Here, we point out some of the leading risk factors for spider veins so you can identify where you might put in the work to avoid them.

Understanding Spider Veins

Spider veins are not the same thing as varicose veins, but they are on the same spectrum. Both are forms of venous insufficiency. In the case of spider veins, blood moves backward in tiny superficial veins in which one-way valves have stopped working as well as they should. These valves should close completely so blood continues to move in forward motion. Spider veins do not become varicose veins, those veins are deeper beneath the skin. While superficial webs of red, purple, and blue may not be symptomatic like varicose veins, they can still be a frustrating problem that causes dissatisfaction and, in some cases, self-consciousness.

What Contributes to Spider Veins?

A few common factors can increase the risk of spider veins. These include:

  • Age. Part of what helps sustain strong venous sufficiency is collagen. This is the same protein that supports firm, youthful skin. Before age 30, we stop making as much collagen as the body needs. As a result, various tissues weaken. Weak valves leave small amounts of blood in the veins. Muscle strength can also degrade with age, and the veins rely on strong calf muscles to move blood efficiently upward.  Fortunately, it is possible to strengthen the calf muscles with walking and conservative exercises like calf raises.
  • Hormones. Hormones are chemical messengers that drive many physical processes. When levels of certain hormones become elevated, we may experience a variety of symptoms, just as we would if certain hormones dipped too low. Estrogen is a hormone that has been associated with vein health. Too much of this hormone can cause tissue weakness and may increase the risk of vein problems.
  • Sedentary lifestyle. We mentioned that the veins rely on calf contractions to move blood up and out of the legs. When we sit for prolonged periods, the calf muscles may become weak. The veins do not receive the periodic movement to support blood flow. If you work at a desk, you have a higher risk of venous insufficiency. That is, unless you get up every 60 to 90 minutes and take a short walk. You can further support vein health by exercising regularly and taking the stairs.
  • Excess weight. Even an extra 20 or 30 pounds is additional stress on the joints, muscles, and veins. This excess pressure carried on the veins is a risk factor for spider veins as well as varicose veins, making weight management a necessary step in controlling the risk of these conditions.

Spider veins don’t have to be a dissatisfying part of life. The most effective spider vein treatment is also the oldest. At Sun Vein and Vascular, quick sclerotherapy treatments can eliminate webbed lines so you can feel happier with your appearance. To schedule your sclerotherapy consultation at our Dallas office, contact us at (214) 556-8880.

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