• 8 February 2019
  • Dr. Obinna Nwobi

About 23% of adults in the United States have varicose veins, but when you include reticular and spider veins, the number goes up to 80-85%. It’s safe to say that spider veins are a common problem and one that many of our patients at Vein Health Clinics want to eliminate. If you’re embarrassed by spider veins, we can help with several safe options to permanently banish them.

How spider veins develop

Spider veins occur in tiny veins that are close to the skin’s surface. They become visible when blood backs up and accumulates in the veins, making them enlarge. When they enlarge, they look like a cluster of reddish-purple lines that branch out or resemble a spider web.

The problem develops when valves that normally keep blood flowing toward your heart don’t work properly. As a result, blood goes in the wrong direction, gets stuck between valves, and builds up, creating engorged veins.

In many cases, the valve fails as the pressure in larger veins affects the smaller veins and makes them expand. When these small, superficial veins are exposed to pressure for an extended length of time, they dilate so much that the valves are no longer closed. Trauma to the vein or damage directly to the valve can also cause spider veins.

Spider veins may indicate other vein problems

Spider veins are mostly an unattractive cosmetic problem. They may sometimes make your skin itch, cause a slight burning sensation, or they may bleed when you shave over them. Otherwise, they don’t cause painful symptoms and sores like you’ll get from varicose veins.

However, spider veins may be the first sign of an underlying problem in the vein system called venous insufficiency. Venous insufficiency occurs when the valves in larger veins in your legs are dysfunctional and allow blood to pool.

Risk factors for spider veins

Here are the top five factors that increase your risk of developing spider veins:


Your genes determine whether you’re more susceptible to spider veins compared to others. If spider veins run in your family, or if you have a family history of any type of venous disease, then your chances of developing spider veins substantially increase.


Getting older doesn’t mean you’re bound to get spider veins, but your risk increases over time. Aging affects your veins just like the rest of your body. The vein walls become weaker and more susceptible to expanding, allowing blood to back up.


Women face a triple risk for spider veins during pregnancy. For starters, the natural hormonal changes weaken vein walls and make the veins dilate, which pulls at the valves, and lets blood flow in the wrong direction.

The second risk factor that occurs during pregnancy is the downward pressure on your leg veins as the baby grows larger. And finally, blood volume increases when you’re pregnant, placing extra pressure against the vein wall and valve.

Extended standing or sitting

Any time you stand or sit for a long time, it affects the circulation through your legs, creates venous hypertension, and causes additional pressure on the veins in your legs. If your day includes prolonged standing or sitting, you can help prevent spider veins by getting up every half hour and taking a short walk.

Being overweight

Any factor that adds stress and pressure to leg veins can make them expand and bulge, resulting in spider veins. Carrying extra weight adds that type of pressure, whether you’re walking or sitting.

At Vein Health Clinics, we can eliminate your spider veins with safe and effective treatments like sclerotherapy and radiofrequency ablation. To schedule an evaluation and talk about your options, call one of the offices in Apopka or Winter Haven, Florida, or use the online booking feature.

About The Author

Dr. Obinna Nwobi

Dr. Obinna Nwobi is a board certified vascular surgeon, who chose to practice in an underserved area in Florida. In a field that graduates only 100 new vascular surgeons a year, Dr. Nwobi is an exemplary vascular surgeon who worked for the Indian Health Services, Veterans Affairs Hospital, and large private and public hospitals.


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