One of the most distressing signs of aging is the appearance of fine spider veins on the thighs and legs. The cause of spider veins is complex and before we can tackle the treatment we need to understand the underlying cause.
Cause of Spider Veins
The main cause of spider veins is the stress the veins are under as they circulate blood back up the legs against gravity. The heart pumps freshly oxygenated blood out of the heart through the arteries. The job of the finer veins is to return the de-oxygenated blood containing carbon dioxide and waste products back to the heart for more oxygen.
While the arteries get the easy "downhill run" into the legs, the veins are tasked with pumping the blood back "uphill" in the legs using a series of one-way valves. As we age, these valves begin to tire and strain, stretching the walls of the veins, especially in people who do a lot of standing as part of their job. The result is tired, achy legs and the appearance of tiny blue networks of spider veins which are actually broken capillaries. In more serious cases, varicose veins can develop.
A common cause of spider veins is crossing your legs, which restricts the blood flow making it harder for the veins to pump blood efficiently. Tight clothing, restrictive footwear, lack of exercise, birth control pills and HRT can also be a contributing cause of spider veins in the legs.
How to Treat and Prevent Spider Veins
The obvious way to prevent spider veins is through exercise, which boosts circulation. Rest tired legs by raising them on a stool while watching TV, for example, and avoid any clothing or sitting positions that restrict blood flow.
Do not expose the legs to intense direct heat or extreme temperatures variations as this can also cause the capillaries to burst, leaving permanent tell-tale blue veins just beneath the surface of the skin.
Spider veins may also appear on the face and nose. The cause of spider veins in this location is slightly different, although they are still broken capillaries. Spending too much time in the sun and wind, drinking alcohol and smoking can all cause aging and broken capillaries that eventually show as spider veins. However, they can easily be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle.