What are Spider Veins and Why Do They Develop?

Have you ever noticed a new or more prominent blood vessel in your leg when getting dressed? If so, you’re probably one of the 1 in 3 women or 1 in 5 men who develop spider veins in their lifetime.

Though they seemingly appear out of nowhere, spider veins are not new blood vessels that our bodies form. Spider veins are created when previously unseen veins near the surface of our skin stretch, letting in more blood and thus becoming visible. As they stretch and become noticeable, spider veins can resemble individual threads or larger vein clusters that look like tree branches. They can be seen on your legs, chest, abdomen, back, arms, and even your face.

What factors in particular lead our existing veins to stretch and morph into spider veins? There are a number of causes behind the development of spider veins. Understanding how spider veins develop can help you identify when you might get them, leading to early detection and treatment.

Why do Spider Veins Develop?

Family History

It is important that you know your family medical history so you know if you are prone to developing spider veins. If your immediate family has experienced spider veins in the past, you are also more likely to deal with them. Obviously your family medical history is not something you can control, but if you know that What are Spider Veins | Lee's Summityour mother and grandfather both had networks of spider veins, you can predict that you might also develop them, and thus stay on the lookout for your own spider vein clusters.

Trauma to Your Soft Tissues

If you hurt your soft tissues — like when you are struck by a hard object, or even hurt as the result of a surgery — spider veins may develop in the injured area. For example, if a soccer ball strikes your calf during a game, the injury might cause blood vessels to stretch and transform into spider veins. Take caution during physical activity to avoid creating spider veins.

Certain Medications

Estrogen and progesterone, two female hormones, can spur the creation of spider veins. Thus, if you take prescription drugs that contain these hormones, such as birth control pills, hormone replacement therapies, and infertility medications, they can cause spider veins to form in your body.

Pregnancy and Spider Veins

When a woman becomes pregnant, her progesterone levels rise, and they remain high during and after pregnancy. Since progesterone relaxes veins’ muscle walls, leading to stretching and blood intake, pregnant women often notice large quantities of new spider veins while they’re with child.


Remaining in a fixed position for a long time can cause your vein walls to weaken and become spider veins. So, if you have a job that requires you to stand or sit for prolonged periods of time, you are more prone to developing spider veins. To mitigate the effects, be sure to get up and walk around when possible during the work day.

Treat Your Spider Veins at Summit Skin & Vein Care

Spider veins can merely be a cosmetic issue, or they can indicate that you are suffering from a more serious medical condition that can only be detected with an ultrasound. Discomfort like aches, burning, and throbbing sensations, heaviness, or excessive itchiness can result from spider veins, especially those on the back of the knees; it’s important to get your spider veins treated to avoid any unnecessary pain!

Summit Skin & Vein Care offers a variety treatments for spider veins including Sclerotherapy and Laser Vein Therapy. We’ll conduct a free vein screening before your physical examination to more accurately assess the extent of your spider veins, as well as to create the best treatment plan. Contact Summit Skin & Vein at  (816) 533-4398 today for more information on spider veins or to schedule an appointment.

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