Pregnancy really did a number on my bod. My son gave me stretch marks, my daughter brought on spider veins in my legs (but they can appear on the face, neck chest and upper arms, too). Spider veins are small blood vessels that are close to the surface of the skin. They are red, purple or bluish and twist into web-like patterns, hence the name. They don’t hurt, but I’m not crazy about the way they look.
Blood flows through the body in a complex of veins. The flow is moving in one direction only because of a series of one-way valves. Contracting muscles help pump the blood through the veins to the heart. If a valve breaks down, blood can pool in an area causing it to weaken, swell and twist. If the vessels are smaller you may get a spider vein cluster in your smooth skin. Larger vessels that twist, raise up and stand out like a cord against the rest of your skin are called varicose veins. Both men and women can have spider or varicose veins, especially if you’re on your feet all day long, are obese, have had surgery to a leg or have family members with these beauties. Pregnancy with its increased blood supply also is a contributing factor and women are twice as likely to get them as men. Great, huh?
You may not like the way they look but, actually, they don’t usually present a health problem. It is possible, however, for them (especially varicose veins) to ache, throb, cause leg cramps, slow circulation that could lead to chronic problems and even skin sores. Occasionally a painful blood clot can form. In severe cases, varicose veins can be surgically removed.
Unless you have severe symptoms, most spider veins and varicose veins don’t need to be treated. The easiest way to deal with any discomfort is to wear support hose, available in knee-high or full pantyhose styles. Check with your pharmacist for brands he recommends. If you’re overweight, try dropping some of those pounds. Walking is a good way to do it and it helps with your circulation. Watch your salt intake, too. Lots of salt can make your body retain fluid, putting more pressure where you don’t want it. If you’re sitting at a desk or table, don’t cross your legs because that can intensify circulatory problems. When you’re sitting reading or watching TV, or if you’re sitting at a desk job for long stretches, be kind to your legs and put your feet up on a stool.
For those of you who really can’t stand the sight of your spider or varicose veins, there are different procedures to help get rid of them: laser therapy; sclerotherapy; vein surgery; endovenous laser treatment; radiofrequency ablation. Speak with your doc for more info.