Spider veins are most common on the ankles and lower legs. While they are not dangerous, treatments are available to help reduce or remove them.
Spider (or varicose) veins happen when your ankle veins swell. They are more common as people age and can sometimes occur during pregnancy. Obesity can sometimes be a risk factor.
Spider veins do not typically hurt, and it’s uncommon for them to lead to other health problems. However, spider veins are visible on the skin and can make people who have them feel self-conscious.
Treatments can help manage spider veins and prevent new ones from forming.
This article covers what’s considered important information to know if you’re developing spider veins.
Spider veins form when the valves in your veins don’t work correctly. Your veins’ valves are flaps that open and shut to let blood through. This process allows blood to circulate through your body.
Sometimes valves stop closing all the way. This causes blood to leak back into the vein. As blood builds up, it puts pressure on the walls of your veins, leading to swelling. The swelling makes your vein enlarge. This is why spider veins are so visible.
This type of valve damage can happen anywhere, but it’s most common in the ankles and lower legs because these veins are so far from your heart. The veins in your ankles are also working against gravity to cycle blood back to your heart. The additional stress makes valve damage more likely.
Are spider veins dangerous?
Spider veins are not dangerous. They’re not a signal of an underlying health condition.
However, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on any spider veins you have. If you have spider veins that swell or become tender, warm, or redder than normal, it’s important to get medical care because those symptoms could point to a blood clot.
Spider veins are thin red lines on the surface of the skin. They often have a “spiderweb” appearance or pattern. You can see images of spider veins in the gallery below.
Spider veins rarely cause any symptoms, and they’re not normally related to any underlying conditions.
However, if you find them painful or if you don’t like the way they change the appearance of your ankle, it’s a good idea to talk with a doctor.
Additionally, if your spider veins change in appearance and become painful, swollen, warm, or bright red, it’s important to let a doctor know. These symptoms could be a sign of a blood clot.
It’s also best to let your doctor know if you have spider veins on your ankle and any of the following events occur:
The right treatment for spider veins depends on the severity. In many cases, simple steps and at-home measures can treat spider veins.
Treatment options include:
- Compression stockings: Compression stockings help improve your circulation. They help reduce your risk of blood clots and prevent new spider veins from forming. However, they will not get rid of spider veins that have already formed.
- Sclerotherapy: Sclerotherapy is a common treatment for spider veins. During sclerotherapy, a doctor, typically a dermatologist, injects the veins with a medication that causes the walls to stick together. You’ll then wear compression stockings for 2 to 3 weeks until spider veins disappear.
- Laser treatments: Laser treatments can be an effective option for spider veins. Small spider veins can sometimes disappear instantly, but large spider veins might need multiple treatments. It can take up to 3 months for large spider veins to fade away.
- Endovenous laser therapy (EVLT) and radiofrequency ablation (RFA): EVLT and RFA are new treatment options that use heat and laser fibers to treat large spider veins. Doctors make small incisions and insert the laser fiber into the vein. The fiber is then heated, causing the vein to collapse.
Can you get rid of ankle spider veins naturally?
You cannot eliminate spider veins that have already formed without medical treatment.
However, you can take steps at home to prevent new spider veins from forming. This includes making lifestyle changes like:
- staying active to help improve your circulation
- avoiding standing still or sitting for long periods of time
- losing weight if you are overweight or have obesity to help reduce pressure on your feet and ankles.
- elevating your feet as much as possible to keep blood flowing
- avoiding overly tight and restrictive clothing that can block blood flow
- avoiding hot tubs and saunas since heat can make your veins swell
- limiting alcohol consumption since it can sometimes cause broken blood vessels
- wearing compression stockings if you know spider veins run in your family
Spider veins in the ankles are a condition that occurs when the blood in your veins flows backward and causes the walls of your veins to swell. This leads to veins that are enlarged, red, and visible through your skin. Spider veins get their name from their typical “spider web” appearance.
They do not hurt, and they do not typically signal any dangerous health problems. However, spider veins that become swollen, warm, tender, or bright red can be a sign of a blood clot.
Treatment for spider veins typically involves treating the veins with injections or lasers and wearing compression stockings to prevent new spider veins from forming.