Spider Veins

Spider veins are dilated capillary veins in the skin. They may be red, blue or purple. Their may run in lines or be arranged in clusters. Spider veins arise from similar causes to varicose veins, but are by definition smaller. The tiniest (less than 0.1mm), red colored spider veins are called telangiectasias. Slightly larger, blue-colored spider veins are called venulectasias. These may be flat or raised above the skin surface. Spider veins are often fed by larger, slightly deeper veins known as reticular veins. These are blue-green in color.

Genetics play a role in the development of spider veins, as with other types of venous disease. More women are affected (40%) than men (25%). Other risk factors include pregnancy, prolonged standing, and prolonged sitting.

Spider veins on the outer thigh are associated with the Lateral Subdermal Complex of veins and are usually not associated with saphenous vein reflux. Clusters along the inner thigh or leg, the ankles and the outer calf may be an indication of reflux in the Great Saphenous or Small Saphenous vein.

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