Are Spider Veins a Health Risk?

Spider veins are well named, as the tiny, bluish-purple lines pop up virtually overnight and then suddenly spread out like a spiderweb. Since they seldom cause discomfort, spider veins primarily spoil your appearance. But they can be an early sign of a vein or health problem that you should take seriously.

At Health and Beauty Associates, we specialize in caring for your appearance. We’re also physicians dedicated to protecting your health and wellness. When we treat spider veins, we carefully screen for potential problems lurking beneath the surface.

Here’s what you should know about spider veins

Spider veins are equipped with tiny one-way valves that make sure blood flows in only one direction: toward your heart. If the valves malfunction, usually because they weaken over time, blood can flow backward and build up in the vein. The veins enlarge as blood accumulates. That’s when they become visible and you suddenly have spider veins.

On their own, spider veins are not a health risk, but it’s important to know that they can be the first sign of other vein problems.

Spider veins may signal venous disease

The veins throughout specific regions of your body are connected as part of a larger network of blood vessels. As a result, problems that occur in large veins may lead to the development of spider veins.

Serious conditions such as deep vein thrombosis and chronic venous insufficiency increase the pressure in the affected vein. Then chronically high venous pressure causes a cascade of events, ultimately weakening one-way valves and stretching vein walls throughout the network of veins. As a result, spider veins (and varicose veins) can develop, making them the sign of the underlying problem.

Pay attention to spider veins around your ankle

While it’s possible for spider veins on your legs to be a red flag, it’s a sure bet that you have chronic venous insufficiency if you develop a large group of spider veins around your ankle. This condition, called corona phlebectatica, is a reliable indicator of severe chronic venous problems.

Spider angiomas look like spider veins and signal big problems

Spider angiomas resemble spider veins. They’re also harmless on their own. But they’re symptoms of serious diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, cirrhosis, and thyroid disorders. The presence of multiple spider angiomas is a sign of chronic liver disease that’s found in 95% of patients subsequently diagnosed with the condition. 

Spider angiomas have a red spot in the middle, with spider veins that extend out from the center. The skin surrounding the area is usually red, which isn’t typical of spider veins.

If you want treatment for spider veins or you have any concerns about visible veins, call Health and Beauty Associates or send us a message here on our website to set up your appointment.

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