Broken veins form when small veins just under the skin become swollen or dilated. They often occur on the legs but can show up on other parts of the body, such as the face. They are also known as telangiectasia or more commonly, spider veins. Spider veins are not usually a health hazard but can cause burning or dull aches in the legs, especially after standing for long periods. They are a milder version of varicose veins, which can cause more severe symptoms and health problems.
Symptoms of Broken Veins
Spider veins show up as twisted or web-like patterns on the skin that are dark blue or purple. They can also cause burning, aching or pain in the affected area, especially after standing for a long time.
Varicose veins are a more severe form of spider veins and may affect deeper veins in the legs. These may appear swollen and raised. Spider veins are mainly a cosmetic concern. Varicose veins, though can sometimes lead to more serious health problems such as ulcers or venous inflammation (phlebitis).
Symptoms of varicose veins are also more severe than those of spider veins and include:
- Burning, throbbing, tingling, tiredness or heaviness in the legs
- Swollen legs
- Itching around the varicose vein
- Cramping of the muscles
- Aching or soreness in the legs
- Leg ulcers
- Discoloration of the skin, especially in the ankles
Symptoms of varicose veins and spider veins may worsen after sitting or standing for long periods. Women may also experience worsened symptoms during pregnancy.
Causes of Broken Veins
Varicose veins and spider veins develop when the walls and valves of the veins become weak. Instead of the blood moving toward the heart, it can pool inside the vein and cause it to enlarge.
Varicose veins and spider veins are more likely to occur when the pressure inside the leg is greater (such as during standing) or when the valves inside the vein are defective. The purpose of the valves is to keep blood from flowing backwards in the vein.
The risk factors for varicose veins and spider veins include:
- Family history of varicose veins or blood clots
- Advancing age
- Standing for long periods
- Being overweight
- Hormonal changes during pregnancy, birth control pill usage or post-menopausal hormonal replacement therapy
- Wearing tight-fitting clothes
- Vein injury
- Other health conditions that increase the pressure in the abdomen such as heart or liver disease, groin surgery or fluid in the abdomen
Treatments for Broken Veins
Spider veins are mainly a cosmetic problem. If you are concerned about the appearance of spider veins, treatments are available, including:
- Laser therapy photo rejuvenation – Your skin therapist aims strong bursts of laser light at the spider veins. This causes them to slowly fade and disappear. This procedure does not require any needles or incisions. Laser surgery works best for smaller veins. It can cause side effects such as itching, redness, swelling, bruising or permanent changes to the skin color.
It may take several months after treatment for spider veins to fade. In addition, they may not go away completely and can sometimes form again in the same area. Varicose veins can also be treated with sclerotherapy and laser therapy, though laser therapy works best on spider veins and smaller varicose veins. Varicose veins can also be treated with:
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