We love living on the Central Coast of California because of all the outdoor fun that’s so close at hand. Hiking, camping, golfing, beach combing, surfing, and pretty much anything else we can do outdoors. That means lots of hiking shorts and summer sundresses.
As we get older, however, an unwelcome visitor tends to show up on our calves and feet. Purple, blue, and red weblike clusters of curly lines — spider veins. If they get bad enough, it may keep us from putting on that favorite sundress or accepting that hiking invitation. And that’s no way to live in San Luis Obispo!
But as we’re now in the midst of our foggier, cooler winter months, those sundresses are now relaxing in the closet. That makes this the perfect time to get your legs ready for next spring and summer. All you need do is schedule a session with Dr. Stevens at Premier Heart and Vein Care to put him on the job of removing those pesky clusters of purple and blue spider veins on your legs.
What are spider veins?
Spider veins are those clusters of red, purple, or blue tiny blood vessels just beneath the surface of your skin. They form as we age and the veins that route our de-oxygenated blood back to the heart and lungs aren’t as firm as they once were. Granted, they must fight an uphill battle with gravity the entire way, but the vein walls can become weaker, allowing blood to pool. Also, our support tissues are entrusted to help the veins push the blood, but they also lose some of their strength as we age.
The result is spider veins. They are different than varicose veins, which bulge upward through the surface skin. Varicose veins can be quite painful, and they are much larger. Spider veins usually don’t involve pain, except when you look down at your legs and see them!
Who is more at risk for spider veins?
Some factors make a person more likely to develop spider veins:
- Pregnancy — Extra weight from the fetus and increased blood flow can lead to spider veins, with each pregnancy increasing the risk for varicose veins.
- Genetics — If your mom and dad had them, odds are you will as well.
- Female — Women are more likely than men to develop spider veins.
- Aging — As our tissues weaken, so do our vein walls.
- Obesity — Extra body weight can cause stress to blood flow. Increased blood pressure can also lead to pooling in leg veins.
- Sitting and standing — Jobs that keep you on your feet or sitting for long periods make your veins work to get the blood back to the heart.
- Hormones — Estrogen changes from birth control pills and menopause can weaken valves in the leg veins.
- Vocation — Prolonged standing or sitting at work can set the stage for varicose veins in the future
What is sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is a simple, minimally invasive solution for spider veins. It involves taking a very fine needle filled with a sclerosant solution (usually polidocanol in the practice). The sclerosant is injected directly into or next to the spider vein, and the solution irritates the walls of the vein. This causes the vein to close off. Any blood that was running through the vein is instantly redirected to a healthier adjacent vein. The spider vein is instantly lessened in appearance. Then the body goes about the business of scavenging and removing the vein over the course of the next few weeks. Eventually it will be completely gone.
Winter is the time
If you’ve been irritated by the squiggly purple and blue lines that have shown up on your calves and ankles, a foggy Central Coast winter is the perfect time to do something about them with Dr. Stevens at Premier Heart and Vein Care. Call us at (805) 540-3333 to schedule an appointment.