What are spider veins?

Spider veins appear as red or purple sunbursts on the skin surface, and can occur on the face, legs or ankles. They can itch, and can be found alone or in combination with varicose veins. They are not a health risk alone, but are often a cosmetic concern. Most spider veins are treated with a combination of sclerotherapy and laser ablation. These combined treatments offer the best long term results.

Spider veins are small-dilated veins near the surface of the skin. Sclerotherapy is the primary treatment for 'spider' veins of the legs. Spider veins are usually cosmetic but can sometimes indicate a deeper problem.

The heart pumps blood to supply oxygen and nutrients to all parts of the body. Arteries carry blood from the heart towards the body parts, while veins carry blood from the body parts back to the heart. As the blood is pumped back to the heart, veins act as one-way valves to prevent the blood from flowing backwards. If the one-way valve becomes weak, some of the blood can leak back into the vein, collect there, and then become congested or clogged. This congestion will cause the vein to abnormally enlarge. These enlarged veins can be either varicose veins or spider veins.

Spider veins are similar to varicose veins, but they are smaller, are often red or blue in color, and are closer to the surface of the skin than varicose veins. They can look like a tree branch or spider web with their short jagged lines. Spider veins can be found on both the legs and the face. They can cover either a very small or very large area of skin.