Spider Veins

It's estimated that as many as 50 percent of North American females ranging from 30 to 60 years old suffer from spider veins.

Spider veins, known as "telangiectasias" or "sunburst" in the medical world, are small thin clumps of red or purple veins that usually appear on the thighs, calves and ankles. Numerous factors can cause the development of spider veins - including heredity, hormonal changes (like puberty, pregnancy or menopause), occupational stress or activities that involve continuous sitting or standing. Certain medications have also been held responsible for causing spider veins. For example, taking estrogen, progesterone or birth control pills have all been linked the cause.

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Spider-shaped or branch-like clusters and individual linear lines are both common spider vein patterns. Linear spider veins most commonly appear on the inner knees; while spider-shaped clusters typically occur on the outer thighs in a sunburst distribution. For people with fine skin, spider veins can be evident on the cheeks and nose after sun exposure.

Sclerotherapy is a type of plastic surgery known to treat spider veins and varicose veins. This costly and slightly painful procedure consists of a series of injections that lasts about 15 to 45 minutes, with no anesthesia. The doctor injects a sclerosing solution into the affected veins to collapse and lighten them. The bruising from sclerotherapy takes approximately 2 weeks to 1 month to heal totally. Sclerotherapy is only a temporary esthetic cure as it only gets rid of veins that are visible. It doesn't prevent new veins from appearing in the future.

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