What Causes Spider Veins?

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June 28, 2018

Spider veins, thin visible veins that sometimes resemble a spider web, are largely a cosmetic concern that doesn’t require medical treatment. However, could your spider veins be a signal of underlying venous disease? What causes spider veins and how can we use these small, superficial veins to diagnose, treat, or even prevent more serious venous health concerns? In this article, we will explore the causes of spider veins and how they can help warn you and your doctor about potential underlying venous disease.

What Causes Spider Veins, And How Are They Linked To Varicose Veins?

Both spider veins and varicose veins are caused by a backup of blood related to venous insufficiency. Venous insufficiency occurs when valves in the veins become damaged or weak, causing blood to pool in leg veins instead of traveling back up to the heart.

Spider veins are also caused by issues unrelated to underlying venous insufficiency, including hormones, sun exposure, and even minor injuries. However, due to their connection with venous insufficiency that can cause bulging, painful varicose veins, it’s recommended that you see a vein specialist for a full evaluation to determine if your spider veins are related to hidden varicose veins in the legs; this will allow your doctors to help you treat venous insufficiency before it becomes a more aggressive problem.

Spider Veins Alone Aren’t Dangerous

Spider veins alone aren’t a health concern. The presence of spider veins does not mean you have venous insufficiency. There are, however, other symptoms of venous insufficiency and hidden varicose veins that can alert you to potential venous disease in your legs. Symptoms include:

dvt symptoms


If you have the above symptoms, you may have venous insufficiency. If you have these symptoms and visible spider veins, the likelihood of venous insufficiency is higher.

Are Spider Veins And Varicose Veins Dangerous?

In the past, varicose veins weren’t considered a danger to your health; however, recent studies show a correlation between varicose veins and deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a condition where blood clots form in the deep vein of the leg. The risk associated with a DVT includes intense leg pain and tenderness, difficulty walking, and the potential for the clot breaking free and traveling to the lungs, resulting in a pulmonary embolism (PE). PE is a clot in the lungs that can cause chest heaviness, shortness of breath, and is a potentially life threatening emergency.

While the link between varicose veins and DVT are not clearly related as cause (varicose veins) and effect (DVT), our own experience and the results of a recent study published in JAMA show a clear correlation between the two conditions.

It is for these reasons, and the known effect that venous disease has on quality of life in our patients, that we highly recommend seeking medical evaluation with a vein specialist if you have symptoms of venous insufficiency, especially if you also have visible spider veins.

How Do I Know What Causes Spider Veins In My Legs?

varicose vein surgeryIf you have spider veins and the symptoms of venous disease/varicose veins mentioned above, you should be evaluated by a vein specialist to determine the exact cause. If you only have spider veins and no other leg symptoms, we still recommend having a medical evaluation if you:

  • are currently overweight or obese, or if you have been in the past
  • have had an injury that left you immobile for a long recovery and/or required surgery
  • wear high-heels and/or tight-fitting pants that affect your circulation
  • take hormonal birth control
  • are pregnant or have been pregnant, especially if you are 35+ and have more than one child
  • have a family history of varicose veins and/or blood clots
  • live a largely sedentary lifestyle or stand/sit for long periods of time for work
  • are a woman 35+ years of age
  • are 60+ years of age


As you can see, there are many different risk factors for venous insufficiency, varicose veins, and blood clots. Therefore, while spider veins are not necessarily caused by venous disease, they likely signal underlying venous insufficiency. These hidden health problems can cause great discomfort and may increase your risk of developing DVT. Don’t try to evaluate what causes spider veins in your legs. Abandon the guesswork and contact a vein specialist to get real answers.

Come See Vein Specialists Of The South About Your Spider Veins

What causes spider veins varies from person to person. This is why it’s important to seek evaluation from a vein specialist. Our Middle Georgia vein specialists can evaluate and treat your spider veins. We will check for underlying, hidden varicose veins and blood clots. Our team offers numerous non-surgical, minimally invasive treatments in our Macon and Warner Robins locations. Our treatments have little-to-no downtime and require only over-the-counter acetaminophen for post-treatment discomfort. Walk-in, walk-out™ with state-of-the-art procedures in the hands of the most experienced team in the state of Georgia.

Better Veins For Life® In Macon And Warner Robins, GA

We also invite you to learn about our venous evaluation and treatment philosophies, which we refer to as our Better Veins for Life® principles. These help patients like you treat venous disease by implementing lifestyle changes in addition to professional treatments. Contact us today to schedule an evaluation or join us for our next Vein Education and Evaluation event to learn more about our practice philosophies. These events are free to the public and regularly held in our Downtown Macon location.

Finally, if you are unable to make the trip to our office, we may be able to offer you a virtual consultation. Visit Virtual Vein, our online telemedicine service. Watch the video below to learn more about this service.

Take care of your legs; take care of your health. Contact Vein Specialists of the South in Macon and Warner Robins, GA, and take control of your leg health today.

Over 18,000 Procedures Performed

Dr. Kenneth Harper, founder of Vein Specialists of the South, has evaluated more than 22,000 patients and performed over 18,000 procedures since 2000. Dr. Harper is a leader in comprehensive vein care, having focused on diagnosis and treatments for varicose veins, spider veins, venous ulcers, and leg swelling since 1997.


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Are embarrassing Varicose Veins keeping you from wearing shorts?

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