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Spider and Reticular Veins

Introduction

Spider veins, also known as Telangiectasia, lie close to the skin surface. They are tiny but when engorged with blood appear red, purple and blue.

Reticular veins are slightly larger and deeper, also known as feeder veins, they often occur with spider veins. They are visible and usually appear blue.

Causes

Normal veins have one-way valves to facilitate effective forward flow of blood. Abnormal veins have weak walls allowing them to stretch and hold more blood. Once the vein wall is distended, the valves no longer meet. Blood tends to pool and flow backwards into the tiny capillaries causing spider veins.

This process may involve larger varicose veins. Some of these may be visible and obviously abnormal because they are bulging, others require ultrasound to define.

This is why treatment of spider veins without investigation of the underlying venous system is ill advised. Any underlying problems may need to be treated first to achieve the best outcome. Spider veins are also thought to be caused by trauma, aging and sun exposure.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Appear as red, purple and blue veins on the skin surface.

Diagnosis

  • Physical examination.
  • Ultrasound.

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