What are spider veins?

Spider veins can be embarrassing and can cause you to be insecure about the appearance of your legs. Medically termed telangectasias, spider veins are very small – usually less than one millimeter – venules (very small veins, usually collecting blood from the capillaries) located just below the skin’s surface. They can be easily seen and are usually red or blue in color.

What causes spider veins?

There are many causes of spider veins; some are congenital and others are from injuries to the area such as burns, trauma, chemicals or radiation. Some symptoms are secondary to other systemic problems like vasculopathies – inflammation of blood vessels.

The most common reason for spider veins is from abnormally functioning veins that have reflux, or blood that flows backwards, which puts more pressure on the venules and causes them to dilate.


Symptoms may include pain or aching in the legs, but spider veins do not usually cause the symptoms; the underlying problem that initially caused the spider veins is typically the cause of the symptoms. For example, in venous reflux, you may experience aching or swelling in your legs as well as fatigue and heaviness with prolonged activity or sitting. Spider veins don’t cause these symptoms, but they can be seen as another sign of venous reflux.

Diagnosis at Ohio State

Experts at The Ohio State University Medical Center will review your medical history and perform a physical exam, which will include questions about your health and an evaluation of the possible symptoms. After your exam, our team of physicians will discuss the potential causes of the spider veins. If there are symptoms present that are associated with your spider veins, our experts will conduct further diagnostic testing, such as venous duplex (ultrasound) study. This is a painless, noninvasive test that shows how blood is moving through your arteries and veins. The test examines the structure of your blood vessels and indicates if there are any blockages within your arteries. 

Spider vein treatment

Spider veins can be treated with sclerotherapy. These are medication injections that can be performed in our clinic. The procedure involves a tiny needle that’s inserted into the veins to deliver medication that will cause the veins to close and fade. Afterwards, you will have to wear compression tights or clothes. Most patients can drive themselves to and from the clinic for the procedure and will be able to resume normal activities.

Why choose Ohio State?

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center is an academic medical center, which means that our patients benefit from innovative research, a depth of medical expertise and the newest technologies and treatment techniques available. 

We offer all minimally invasive techniques for treatment of spider veins, including endovenous laser therapy, radiofrequency ablation, sclerotherapy and phlebectomy. We can perform these procedures in our outpatient clinic, allowing you a quick visit and recovery time.

Common Questions Concerning Spider Veins

Dr. Mounir Haurani, a vascular surgeon at the OSU Wexner Medical Center, answers common questions about spider veins and treatment at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Spider Vein Treatment

These veins don’t usually cause pain, but may be treated for cosmetic reasons. There are several treatment options available, including sclerotherapy and veingogh.
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