Spider veins are small, thin veins that lie close to the surface of the skin. They are generally 1-2 mm in size. Although these fine veins are connected with the larger venous system, they are not an essential part of it. A number of factors contribute to the development of spider veins, including heredity, pregnancy, hormonal shifts, weight gain, occupations or activities that require prolonged sitting or standing, and certain medications. Spider veins may take on one of three basic patterns. They may appear in a spider shape with a group of veins radiating outward from a dark central portion. They may be arborizing and will resemble tiny branch-like shapes. They may also appear as linear thin separate lines. Regardless of the presentation, many patients find them unsightly when wearing a skirt or swimsuit.
Requests for treatment usually focus on the facial and leg areas. Laser treatment of facial spider veins may be quite successful. First line of treatment for the leg is usually via sclerotherapy which involves precise injection of the vein using a concentrated salt solution. Multiple treatments may be required, and complete resolution cannot be guaranteed. As with any laser treatment, the risk of scarring is present, though fairly low.