Varicose Veins + Spider veins

When you follow a bunch of medical stuff on instagram like me you find other random videos and photos that are very intriguing. Being a ex-morticians assistant and a esthetician: I love anatomy. I follow podiatrists, estheticians, dermatologists, nurses, morticians and corners/pathologists. My newest obsession is watching sclerotherapy videos; the removal of spider veins and varicose veins

It looks like a reverse lightning strike in your skin!

Veins carry carbon dioxide-filled blood back to the heart and lungs and must defy gravity in order to make that trip. Veins are rather fragile and any defective vein wall can result in dilation and damage to the valves, which can cause pressure and bulging veins. – “Beautiful Skin By Nature”

What’s the difference between Spider Vein and Varicose Veins?

Spider veins are thin, blueish or red veins that are small and flat. They can appear mostly on your extremities but can also appear on your face, breasts and stomach (especially during puberty, weight gain and pregnancy/breastfeeding). They are never painful and more so just a cosmetic issue for most people but can be a precursor to having varicose veins or are a symptom of a pre-existing issue. Also known as telangiectasias.

No not the pokemon….

though they do look like a bunch of varicose veins that are angry….

Varicose Veins are bulky dark blue/green/purple  squiggly veins that pop out of your skin (not like actually out of your skin but it sometimes looks like it).Hands, forearms, legs and feet are the most to be affected by varicosities. Women are 4X more likely to suffer from varicose veins. Varicose veins can be very painful, cause cramping, dull aching pain, heavy feeling in the legs, swollen ankles and can feel itchy.

There is a long list of what can cause Spider veins and Varicose veins:

  • sun damage
  • puberty
  • women who retain fluid during menses
  • weight gain
  • pregnancy (more in the 3rd trimester when you are at your heaviest and you know, a baby is kinda in the way)
  • old age
  • hormone therapy / birth control (specifically estrogen)
  • prolonged heat exposure
  • blood pressure issues
  • prolonged standing
  • prolonged sitting
  • injury
  • smoking

The one thing that ISN’T either of these issues is when you see a body builder with all their veins bugling.

Popped-out veins aren’t just a blood-drawing nurse’s dream; they’re a key indicator of that coveted bodybuilder look. You’re not hardcore until your blood-carrying pathways jut out like an arm full of hernias. “-thrillist.com

“Bigger muscles demand more blood. When you accrue significant muscle mass, your body adapts by expanding its blood flow network; thus, veins become more prominent in specific areas.” –Paul Salter, RD, CSCS, and nutrition editor at Bodybuilding.com

What makes them even bigger looking when you see Arnold in his man thong; it is common practice for competitions to be dehydrated which tightens the skin and makes them look even bigger and shows off more definition of the muscles.


As an Esthetician I do come into both spider veins and varicose veins quite often during manicures, pedicures and waxing. They are a contraindication for me though, and I would like to know what your doctor says to do about them. I can’t wax over vericose veins because the skin is very thin and the pressure of me apply the wax can damage the vein wall even more, or parts of the vein or a blood clot to be released into the circulation (an emboli) placing the person at risk of pulmonary embolism. Same reason why I can’t do a more force applied massage during manicures and pedicures.

Treatments

There are lots of things you can do at daily to help prevent varicosities such as stretching your legs, getting up and going for a walk if you have a desk job, walking daily, if you are going to cross your legs and already have varicose veins-cross at your ankles and not your knees (“like a lady!” screams every Grandma in the world). If you are laying in bed or on the couch try to elevate your feet. Wear graduated compression hose especially while traveling, sitting or standing for an extended period, and during pregnancy and high heels should be for special occasions. Having good circulation is key and strengthening your calf muscle is the best way to keep the valves in your veins healthy and strong.

Hand care tips: when we get older and our skin starts to thin, varicose and spider veins can show up predominantly on our hands. Try to keep your hands moisturized, you can even do masks on your hands to brighten them or tighten the skin a bit. Make sure your daily hand cream has SPF in it if you drive a lot: or get classy driving gloves.

Seeking other treatments while pregnant is not a safe option. Wait till after pregnancy to see if veins will return to normal on their own(most of the time they do).

If it is just a mild annoyance and you want to cover it up you can use a orange toned concealer/colour correcting foundation with your natural skin tone foundation on top to hide the appearance of small spider veins.

At the start of this blog I was talking about the memorizing videos of sclerotherapy that I watch on instagram. During a sclerotherapy procedure, a solution is injected into the varicose or spider vein (it’s a salt or chemical solution called a “sclerosant”). As a result of that, the vein walls swell, stick together, and seal so that no more blood can flow through the vein. This whole process forces the blood to reroute through healthier veins, and the collapsed varicose vein is eventually reabsorbed into local tissues and fades within a few weeks. This needs to be done by a dermatologist.

Laser therapy is also another option. Laser heat damages a vein, which makes scar tissue form. This scar tissue closes the vein. A closed vein loses its source of blood and dies. After a year or two, the vein is likely to disappear. There are 2 types though on top of the skin(simple laser treatment) or through a catheter (Endovenous laser treatment).

I will totally admit that I used to be terrified of varicose veins. I was always scared my grandma or even relativity toned men whose veins pop out on their arms: will one day brush up against like a splinter or nail sticking out, catch it and bleed everywhere! I also can’t watch Philip’s death from “Nightmare on Elm Street 3”. -me

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