How Do Spider Veins Form?

Spider veins are small, broken, or dysfunctional capillaries. Capillaries are the smallest type of blood vessel in your body, but when they go awry, they can cause big problems in the appearance of your legs or face. 

Jeffrey Gosin, MD treats spider veins and varicose veins at Shore Vascular and Vein Center in Somers Point, New Jersey. Here’s why those spider veins showed up and what you can do about them.

Spider veins are a sign of damage

Spider veins in the legs are similar to varicose veins. Capillaries (which become spider veins) and other veins are affected by aging and the ongoing stress of gravity. These blood vessels have the unenviable task of pumping used-up (i.e., deoxygenated) blood back up toward your heart. Up toward your heart = against gravity.

Over time, and especially with other types of trauma that may weaken the blood vessels, the valves on the veins and capillaries start to fail. Strong, healthy valves push the blood back up toward the heart and then close, so the blood can’t flow backwards into the vein. Damaged valves can’t push against gravity and can’t resist the backflow of blood.

As the blood collects behind the faulty valve, it stretches and pushes against the vessel walls. The veins actually get bigger, which is why you can see them. In the case of varicose veins, of course, the veins can become quite large and twisted.

Facial capillaries usually transform into spider veins when they’re damaged or traumatized. Handling your skin too roughly or popping pimples may create spider veins. Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays can also damage delicate capillaries, resulting in spider veins.

Spider veins can affect anyone

Spider veins are more visible if you have paler skin. However, anyone with any skin color may have damaged capillaries; they just may be harder to see on darker shades of skin. You’re more likely to develop spider veins if you’re:

You’re also more likely to develop spider veins if a blood relative has them. In addition, both women and men with rosacea may have spider veins on their face.

Spider veins have multiple causes

Because spider veins — particularly those in the face — can arise from any sort of damage, your spider veins may have more than one cause. Other types of stress to capillaries that damage them enough to create spider veins include:

Luckily, most spider veins are only a cosmetic problem. In some cases, spider veins may start to itch or cause other uncomfortable symptoms.

How to treat spider veins

If your spider veins are an aesthetic issue alone and are fairly simple, Dr. Gosin may recommend using retinoids to improve your overall skin quality, which could rebuild areas now marred with spider veins. He also offers spider-vein removal treatments, including:


Dr. Gosin injects saline or other sclerosing (i.e., irritating) substances into the spider veins to collapse the broken capillaries. Sclerotherapy only takes about 20 minutes. You should see the results within a few weeks, though repeat treatments may be necessary.

Laser therapy

Dr. Gosin also uses the excel® V laser to break up the aberrant capillaries that comprise spider veins in about 15-30 minutes. You may need more than one treatment to completely clear the broken veins from your face or legs.

Face the world with clear, spider-vein-free skin again by calling us at 609-297-5992 for spider vein removal treatment. Or, use the handy online contact form to request an appointment.

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