What Are Spider Veins

Spider veins are the thread-like red, blue, or purple veins that are commonly found on the legs and face.

spider calf

Typical spider veins of the calf

A spider vein (telangiectasia is the medical term) can be differentiated from a varicose vein by the way they feel. If a vein can be felt above the level of the skin (close your eyes first!) then you are most likely dealing with a varicose not a spider vein. The medical definition, by the way, is any vein 1mm or less.Spider veins have no major medical significance but can be unsightly. If spiders are symptomatic, they will usually manifest themselves with burning or itching. If extensive, they will occasionally cause leg fatigue and discomfort especially after prolonged standing.

Spider veins are common in women especially after pregnancy. Hereditary (thanks mom!) is a major factor and for that reason even very young women in their teens can develop them. I have occasionally treated men as well.

Spider veins can be associated with malfunctioning superficial veins under the skin (feeding veins) or even visible varicose veins. This is not a serious problem. Be wary of recommendations to undergo major procedures to treat more than your spider veins if you are asymptomatic or have no significant varicose veins that are of a concern to you.

spiders with vvs

Spider veins with associated varicose vein

Corona phlebectatica, “spider like” veins below the anklebone, is a reason that many patients eventually decide to explore treatment options. However, these vessels are the one area where most vascular experts recommend a comprehensive ultrasound exam. Corona is a sign of venous pressure further up the leg. Again, it is not necessarily a reason to undergo extensive vein procedures but a source of that pressure should be looked for.

corona phlebectatica

corona phlebectatica

Corona can be due to malfunctioning veins in either the deep or superficial veins, so make sure the individual doing your ultrasound has the proper credentials. Veins of the corona phlebectatica can be treated but they are typically more resistant to sclerotherapy requiring multiple sessions.

Spider veins of the face and nose are an entirely different entity. There are a number of reasons for these to develop. As a vascular surgeon, I choose not to treat them. My recommendation is to seek out a dermatologist to make sure there are no underlying medical issues, which is uncommon. Most dermatologists will treat them for you as well.

See our spider vein treatment option