William Callaghan. MD (Spider-Vein-Treatment Surgery)
Telangiectasias are widely open (dilated) blood vessels in the outer layer of the skin. They are often called spider veins when located in legs.
They are usually caused by sun damage or aging. They should be confused with rosacia or congenital lesions (such as port-wine stains). When seen on the legs, they do not necessarily indicate a vein disorder, such as varicose veins or underlying deep vein problems. They may be associated with certain types of inherited diseases (i.e. hemorrhagic telangiectasia, xeroderma pigmentosa) or certain drugs such as oral or topical steroids.
Signs and Symptoms
Telangiectasias can be seen anywhere on the body. They are common on the face (nose, cheeks, and chin) and legs (particularly the thighs, just below the knees and the ankles).
They are generally red, blue, or purple linear marks measuring less than 1–3 mm in width and several millimeters to centimeters in length, and they can disappear temporarily if you press on them with your finger.
They are not life threatening, but can be very visible and be noticeable. However, if the lesions are cosmetically displeasing, there are available treatments.
Alpha hydroxy acids (i.e., glycolic acid) speeds up the turnover of epidermal cells and accelerates exfoliation, causing more melanin to be removed.
The main focus of treatment centers on the use of lasers. These are highly effective (laser or IPL). Another method is direct electro-cauterization. This method requires a highly skilled individual to prevent deep burn and subsequent permanent scarring.
If the diameter of the spider veins is large, then sclerotherapy is another option.