The Top 12 Causes of Spider Veins and How to Treat Them

A doctor's hands with blue rubber gloves examining a patient's leg veins.

When someone hears “spider veins,” they usually associate it with a specific part of the body…the legs. What they don’t know is legs aren’t the only part of the body that can be affected by spider veins. There are actually 4 places spider veins may develop besides your legs:

  1. Your Face – Mostly caused by smoking, sun exposure, or other conditions like Rosacea, your face may experience spider veins around the nose and cheek area.
  2. Your Arms and Hands – Due to the thinning of skin and loss of fat.
  3. Your Chest – Typically from genetics, venous blockages, hormones during pregnancy, or breast augmentation. 
  4. Your Feet – Which is a sign you will get varicose veins.

You don’t have to live with spider veins, there are permanent solutions worth considering. But first, the experts at Vein Clinic of Greater Kansas City put together a list of 12 causes that may be behind your spider veins. Read about them here:

12 Causes of Spider Veins

cause of spider veins


Certain people are more vulnerable when it comes to developing broken capillaries and it all relates back to their familial genes. Simply put, those individuals with a family history of developing spider veins are more likely to get them than those who don’t have ancestors with spider veins.

Most medical professionals suspect that genetics are the principal cause of spider veins.

Hormonal Factors

Whether it be from puberty, menopause, or pregnancy, spider veins tend to begin developing. Changes in estrogen and progesterone levels, including the use of postmenopausal hormone replacement treatment, can also contribute to the condition.


Hormonal changes aside, pregnancy still has alternate routes to developing spider veins. With the most common being weight gain. This growing pressure over the abdomen and the surrounding blood vessels turns into spider veins more times than not. 


Blood vessels directly under the skin are extremely sensitive and can break in many ways. For example, a pair of eyeglasses can cause broken capillaries around your nose and cheek area. Skin surgery, wounds, the use of some cosmetic products and even scrubbing of the face in an aggressive manner can damage capillaries. 

Medical Conditions

There are several different medical conditions that can and will cause spider veins. Medical conditions like blood clots will obstruct the blood flow in the veins, development of inflamed veins (phlebitis), and/or liver damage and cause spider veins. Rosacea, when an individual’s skin appears red and flushed, often times suffer from spider veins or varicose veins.

Leg Injuries

Individuals who have previously suffered from leg injuries that have decreased or increased blood flow can contribute to spider veins. Individuals who spend long periods of time standing along with long periods of time sitting are more likely to have poor circulation which can lead to spider and varicose veins.


One cause of spider veins that often times goes unnoticed is the changing of temperatures and exposure to these temps. This could come from prolonged exposure to the sun, or even washing your face with hot water. Prolonged sun exposure can also make your current spider veins much more visible because of the damage to the collagen found under the skin.


The older you are, the greater chance you have at developing spider veins. This is because skin loses its elasticity and becomes thinner over time. Collagen and flexibility slowly disappear ultimately making the skin more vulnerable to traumas.


Women are more likely to develop spider veins. It has been found that the major percentage of affected older individuals are women, where only 10-15% are men.


Obesity is the main cause of broken capillaries in legs. They create lots of pressure in the body which interrupts the circulation of blood. When the skin stretches, the capillaries are more likely to break. It is recommended to exercise and lose weight in order to reduce the progress of broken capillaries.


Excessive alcohol intake will damage the liver which directly influences the formation of spider veins and varicose veins. This is because alcohol increases blood pressure which will cause swelling and the breaking of blood vessels.


Smoking results in weaker and less resistant capillaries that are more likely to break. This is because when you smoke cigarettes, it causes oxidization of cells which can harm your circulatory system.

Related Read: Vein Treatment at Any Age

Are You a Good Candidate for Spider Vein Treatment?

spider veins on leg

Don’t be fooled. Spider veins are not just an age-related problem. They can affect and appear on all bodies, young and old. Even though they aren’t medically dangerous, they cause many people, especially women, a great deal of emotional distress. If you are experiencing one of the scenarios below, we highly consider seeing a vein specialist for an evaluation to discuss further 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 specific ways we recommend to treat spider veins. Luckily, neither is invasive, nor does either of them require any downtime:

Laser Therapy

laser treatment for veins

Is the best option for small to medium-sized spider veins, especially the facial variety. If the treatment is being done on your face, the doctor will cover your eyes to protect them from the laser. Then a laser-emitting wand or hand-piece will pass over the affected areas. The blood will absorb the laser light, causing the veins to clot and be absorbed by the body.

Once the treatment is done, it’s important to protect your skin from the sun’s UV rays by either wearing long sleeved clothing or to regularly apply sunscreen. Since there is no downtime, there may be some short-lived side effects including, reddened skin, blistering, or slight bruising. Several treatments are needed to completely eradicate the problem.


 sclerotherapyThis is the procedure for larger spider veins on the legs or other parts of the body. Your vein specialist will inject a treatment solution into the veins with a micro-needle causing the veins to shrink, turn white, and eventually disappear.

Your doctor may ask you to wear a compression stocking after the procedure if the treatment was done on your legs. Since we use micro-needles, there is only mild discomfort and absolutely no downtime. Just like laser treatment, a few treatments are necessary 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 any uncomfortable or embarrassing spider veins on your face, legs, or chest, you may be suffering from a vein disorder. Download our FREE guide to understand the signs & symptoms you should be looking out for, or give us a call at (913)541-3377.