Spider veins, medically known as telangiectasia, are tiny blood vessels and small veins that become visible through the skin on the surface of the legs and thighs. Spider veins become visible on most women by the age of 30 and are likely to appear during pregnancy. Spider veins are caused by the weight of blood which stretches out the capillary walls. This is why most spiders veins are found on the legs, because the legs support much of the body weight. The veins become more visible as the skin thins and ages.

It's important to note that spider veins are not varicose veins. While the two may occur on the body at the same time, varicose veins are due to malfunctioning valves in the large veins of the legs. Varicose veins should be removed by vascular surgeons, not dermatologists or cosmetic surgeons. Spider veins typically have no medical effects and are simply a cosmetic problem. The only thing that spider veins and varicose veins may have in common is that both occur in people who are required to stand for long periods of time.

One way to get rid of spider veins is through the use of sclerotherapy. This is currently the most common method of treating spider veins, with over 500,000 people undergoing the procedure in 2005. Sclerotherapy is done with no anesthesia and involves injecting a chemical into the capillaries to make them invisible by blocking blood flow. Sclerotherapy does not destroy the blood vessels. The walls are simply compressed so tightly that it creates a permanent seal. Think of stepping on a garden hose. If you step on a garden hose so that the sides seal together, water will not be able to flow through the hose.

The most common chemical used for sclerotherapy is a saltwater solution. A major advantage of saltwater is that there is no chance of an allergic reaction. A major disadvantage is that it burns when injected. There are other chemicals that are less painful but have higher risks for causing an allergic reaction. Since the chemical is injected directly into the bloodstream, there is high risk for an anaphylactic reaction. Therefore, the saltwater solution is the preferred choice for both doctors and patients.

Laser therapy is another method used for spider vein removal. However, most surgeons agree that the lasers are less effective than sclerotherapy. Laser therapy is also more painful. However, when it comes to treating visible spider veins in the face, lasers are the preferred method of treatment. This is because the blood pressure flowing through vessels in the face is much lower than those below the level of the heart. In addition, these vessels are closer to the skin and are smaller in diameter.