Spider veins are a smaller type of varicose vein involving the capillaries. They are common in both women and men after age 50, and usually appear on the face and legs. They are not serious but can be a nuisance. Laser surgery and sclerotherapy are two standard treatments for spider veins. Complementary treatments include herbs such as horse chestnut and grape seed. Diet and exercise are also important.
Most Common Treatments for Spider Veins
The most common treatments for spider veins are laser surgery and sclerotherapy. In sclerotherapy, the doctor injects a solution into the spider vein, which causes it to swell and seal shut. The flow of blood then stops and the veins turn to scar tissue and eventually fade. This is usually effective and the side effects are temporary and include redness, bruising and painful cramps around the injection site. Laser surgery takes 2 to 5 treatments of 15 to 20 minutes each. The intense heat from the laser can be quite painful, according to The National Women’s Health Information Center. Redness and swelling, which fades within a few days, may occur with laser surgery. You can return to normal activity right after both sclerotherapy and laser surgery.
Horse chestnut is one of the most common herbs to treat varicose veins, including spider veins. It must be purchased in a prepared treatment, because the horse chestnut contains a poisonous substance called esculin, which needs to be removed. This herb should be taken with the consultation of a doctor trained in herbal medicine, as it can cause stomach upset and, rarely, kidney and liver poisoning, according to Dr. James Duke.
Again according to Dr. Duke, grape seeds contain flavinoids called OPCs. These “possess a dramatic ability to protect and tone capillaries.” He suggests 75 to 300 mg of grape seed extract daily for up to 3 weeks and then a daily maintenance dose of 40 to 100 mg. There are no known side effects to grape seeds.
Arnica gel, Vitamin K creams, aloe vera, apple cider vinegar and witch hazel may all help spider veins. Vitamin K cream works to strengthen the capillaries and is necessary in blood clotting, according to the NIH. Applying apple cider vinegar or witch hazel are folk remedies, which, according to Health 911, may help if used daily.
Diet and Lifestyle
If you stand for long periods of time, do calf exercises by standing on your toes 20 times in a row and then relaxing. If you sit for long periods, keep you legs up and do not cross your legs. Exercise and keep fit as well. Being overweight can contribute to the cause of spider veins. A healthy diet with lots of green leafy vegetables will provide the Vitamin K, Vitamin C and other vitamins and minerals that can strengthen the capillaries.
References and ResourcesNIH website on varicose veins
Common remedies for varicose and spider veins
University of Marylannd Medical Center on grape seeds
ResourcesNIH on Vitamin K
Google Books link to Dr. Duke's Handbook of Medicinal Herbs
The National Women's Health Information Center