Spider Veins: Causes, Cures and Considerations

When you think of spider veins, you usually think of a specific part of the body – the legs. What many of us forget is that your legs aren’t the only area where these unsightly little blood vessel anomalies can show up. Surprise! Here are four places spider veins may develop besides your legs:

  1. Your face, especially around the nose and cheeks, which can be caused by smoking, sun exposure, or other conditions such as Rosacea.
  2. Your arms and hands due to the thinning of skin and loss of fat.
  3. Your chest; these can be due to genetics, venous blockages, hormones during pregnancy, or breast augmentation.
  4. Your feet which could be a sign that you will get varicose veins.

Obviously, these aren’t places that are easy to hide unless you’re willing to wear long sleeves, gloves, and a ski mask out into the world each day! You can cover them with makeup, a time-consuming daily task, but you have permanent solutions worth considering as well. First, let’s look at the causes of spider veins:


12 Causes of Spider Veins

cause of spider veins

1. Genetics

There are certain people who are more vulnerable in developing broken capillaries due to their familial genes. If the family history of the person shows traces of the condition, it is more likely for the individual to develop spider veins compared to a person who don’t have ancestors with spider veins.

Most people in the medical field suspect that genetics is a principal cause of spider veins.

2. Hormonal Factors

Hormonal changes during puberty, menopause, or pregnancy can encourage the development of spider veins. Changes in estrogen and progesterone levels, including the use of postmenopausal hormone replacement treatment, can also contribute to the condition.

3. Pregnancy

Besides hormonal changes during pregnancy, weight gain creates growing pressure over the abdomen and the surrounding blood vessels. An increase in blood flow also means a higher volume of blood in the veins which can cause spider veins to appear.

4. Trauma

Blood vessels under the skin can be very sensitive to damage. They could easily break in many ways. Even a small amount of pressure, such as that created by a pair of eyeglasses against the nose can cause broken capillaries. Skin surgery, wounds, the use of some cosmetic products and even aggressive scrubbing of the face can damage capillaries.

5. Medical Conditions

Many medical conditions can cause spider veins. Medical conditions like blood clots obstructing the blood flow in the veins, development of inflamed veins (phlebitis), and/or liver damage can cause spider veins. Individuals who suffer from rosacea (a condition that makes the skin appear red and flushed) can suffer from spider veins or varicose veins. Tumors and constipation resulting in increased pressure in the abdomen can cause broken capillaries, too.

6. Leg Injuries

People who have suffered previous leg injuries may have decreased or increased blood flow in that area which can contribute to spider veins. Individuals who spend long periods of time standing along with long periods of time sitting are more inclined to have poor circulation which can lead to spider and varicose veins.

7. Environment

The most common environmental related risk factors are changes in temperature and exposure to extreme temperatures. For example, washing the face with hot water or going to saunas. Prolonged exposure to the sun, although it doesn’t cause spider veins, can make current spider veins worse and more visible because of the damage it does to the collagen found under the skin.

8. Age

The older you are, the greater your risk of developing spider veins. Skin loses its elasticity and becomes thinner over time. It also loses collagen and flexibility, making skin more vulnerable to traumas.  

9. Gender

Women are also more predisposed to the condition. It has been found that the major percentage of affected older individuals are women, where only 10 to 15% are men.

10. Obesity

The main cause of broken capillaries on legs is obesity. Obesity creates a lot of pressure in the body which interrupts the circulation of blood. In obese people, the skin suffers extensive stretching making the capillaries more likely to break. It is recommended to lose weight and exercise in order to reduce the progress of formed broken capillaries.

11. Alcohol

Excess alcohol intake damages the liver which not only influences the formation of spider veins, but also varicose veins. Abuse of alcohol can also cause spider veins because it causes increased blood pressure which results in the swelling and breaking of blood vessels.

12. Smoking

Smoking of cigarettes causes oxidization of cells which can harm the circulatory system. This results in weaker and less resistant capillaries that are more likely to break.

Related Read: Vein Treatment at Any Age

Are You a Good Candidate for Spider Vein Treatment?

spider veins on legSpider veins are not just an age-related problem. They can appear on bodies young and old, and though they’re not medically dangerous, they cause many people – especially women – a great deal of emotional distress. If any of the following scenarios sound like something you’re experiencing, consider seeing a vein specialist for an evaluation and to discuss treatment options:



  • You have visible veins on your legs or thighs that have a web-like or branching pattern.
  • You have a branching pattern on your face that you usually try to cover up with makeup.
  • You believe your spider veins are making you look older than you are, or they’re otherwise undermining your self-confidence.
  • You avoid wearing shorts or bathing suits in the summertime because you’re embarrassed by your spider veins.


Spider Vein Treatment Options

There are two ways to treat spider veins. Luckily, neither is invasive, nor does either of them require any downtime:

Laser Therapy

laser treatment for veinsThis is a good option for small to medium-sized spider veins, especially the facial variety. While you’re being treated, the doctor will cover your eyes to protect them from the laser. The doctor then passes a laser-emitting wand or hand-piece over the affected areas. The blood absorbs the laser light, causing the veins to clot and be absorbed by the body.
Afterwards, it’s important to protect your skin from the sun’s UV rays by using sunscreen faithfully and generously. While there’s no downtime, there may be some short-lived side effects like reddened skin, blistering or slight bruising. You’ll probably need several treatments to completely eradicate the problem.



This is a procedure that is typically used for larger spider veins on the legs or sclerotherapyother parts of the body. The doctor injects a treatment solution into veins with a micro-needle. This causes the vein to shrink, turn white, and eventually disappear.

If the treatment is on your legs, your doctor may ask you to wear compression stockings afterwards to maximize results. Because the needles used are small, there is only mild discomfort and no downtime. As with laser treatment, results are not instantaneous, and you’ll need a few treatments for permanent results.


After Treatment Considerations


  • The procedure, which is done in a doctor’s office, only entails 30 to 45 minutes.
  • No downtime is involved.
  • Don’t engage in heavy exercise, sunbathing, hot baths or saunas or take plane flights for two to three days after your procedure.
  • Improvements can be seen over a time period of several weeks to months.


If you have bulging or spidery veins on your legs, face, or chest, you may have a vein disorder. Download our FREE guide to the know the signs and symptoms you should be watching out for: