How Do Spider Veins Form?

Text Size:  

It’s easy to see how spider veins got their name: These tiny red, blue or purple  veins end to form in groups of clusters, forming a weblike appearance just under the skin. Spider veins can occur anywhere on your body, including your face. But like their larger cousins, varicose veins, they tend to appear most often in the legs and feet, when veins very close to the surface of the skin become dilated.

Spider veins are more common than varicose veins; in fact, there’s a good chance that as you get older, you’ll have at least a couple of the tiny veins in some area of your body.

Spider Vein Causes

Spider veins can be caused by the same factors that cause varicose veins – namely, underlying vein disease – but they can also be caused by other issues, including:

  • Age-related changes in the blood vessels
  • Hormonal changes, birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy
  • Being overweight or obese, which places added strain and pressure on the vessels
  • Sun exposur
  • Traumatic injury
  • Prolonged periods of standing – for instance, having a job that requires you to be on your feet for long stretches of time, day after day

Sometimes, spider veins are caused by underlying venous disease that interferes with the flow of blood in vessels located deeper under the skin.

Spider Vein Symptoms and Treatments

Often, spider veins cause few or no symptoms. But when they occur in groups or clusters, they can cause problems like aching, burning or cramping, especially when they occur in the legs or feet. Like varicose veins, spider veins are more common among women, and sometimes, the symptoms of spider veins will be more pronounced during menstruation or pregnancy.

Because spider veins are so tiny and located near the surface of your skin, treatment is usually quite straightforward. The two most common treatment options for spider veins are sclerotherapy and laser treatment.


Sclerotherapy uses injections of a special chemical solution to irritating the inside lining of the veins, causing them to close off to the flow of blood. Instead, blood is rerouted to neighboring veins while the diseased vein is eventually absorbed by the body. Sclerotherapy has been used for decades to successfully treat spider veins and some types of varicose veins.

Laser Treatment

More recently, laser treatment has emerged as a very popular option for spider vein treatment. During laser treatment, a tiny laser is inserted into the vein. Once in place, the laser emits targeted heat energy that causes the vein to close. Like sclerotherapy, laser treatment is completed as an outpatient procedure.

Other treatment options are also available, depending on your overall health and where the spider veins are located.

Learn more about spider vein treatments.

Spider veins may seem like little more than a nuisance, but because they can sometimes be an indicator of underlying – and serious – vein disease, having them evaluated is essential. As a top provider of state-of-the-art vein treatments in and around Tampa, Florida, United Vein Centers helps patients get the care they need to eliminate unhealthy veins, treat underlying vein disease and enjoy better vascular health. If you have spider veins or varicose veins, call United Vein Centers at 800-952-5954 and schedule an evaluation today.