How Does Sun Exposure Lead To Spider Veins?
A glowing complexion is often associated with good health, but the harmful effects of excessive sun exposure are well documented. The sun’s powerful ultraviolet (UV) light accelerates many visible effects of aging, including fine lines and wrinkles, freckles, age spots, discoloration, and sagging skin. Chronic overexposure also significantly increases your risk of developing malignant melanoma and other forms of skin cancer.
Most people understand that sunscreen is a vital tool used to help reduce cancer risk and prevent the superficial signs of skin aging, but what is less commonly known is the role sun exposure can play in the development of vascular disorders and spider veins. At Advanced Varicose Vein Treatments of Manhattan, we strive to not only treat our patients, but to provide them with education and tips for preventative care so that they can keep their legs looking smooth and healthy for years to come.
What Are Spider Veins?
Telangiectasias, also known as spider veins, are small blood vessels near the surface of the skin that are broken or enlarged. They typically appear as a network of red, purple, and blue lines resembling a spider’s web or a “starburst” pattern. Unlike varicose veins, which form on the lower legs and thighs, spider veins can emerge on the face, chest, abdomen, back, arms, and other areas of the body.
These delicate, branching vein clusters are primarily a cosmetic concern with no significant medical consequences. However, in some cases, they can result in symptoms including burning, aching, itching, or stinging, and can be prone to bruising or bleeding from minor traumas.
How Sun Exposure Affects Veins
To better understand the connection between sun exposure and spider veins, you must first understand the function of collagen in the body. Collagen is a structural protein primarily found in fibrous tissues such as tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. It is the main component of your body’s connective tissues, and also provides strength and elasticity to your skin and blood vessels. As collagen breaks down, these tissues become weaker and less pliant. Fragile collagen structure results in decreased pressure around the blood vessels and reduced suppleness of the skin, which in turn make spider veins more likely to appear at the skin’s surface.
Although collagen production naturally slows with age, excessive exposure to the sun’s UV rays can cause collagen to decline more quickly. Those who already suffer from spider veins may find that they worsen during the warmer months. Increased temperatures can cause veins to dilate and enlarge, aggravating the condition’s appearance as well as its associated discomforts.
How To Prevent Spider Veins Caused By Sun Exposure
It is not necessary to avoid the sun altogether if you wish to prevent spider veins, but it’s important to properly protect yourself while you’re outdoors. Try to limit the time you spend outside when the sun’s rays are most powerful, between the hours of 10:00 am and 2:00 pm. Wear clothing that does not expose an excessive amount of skin, and invest in a quality wide-brimmed sun hat that shields your face, neck, and shoulders. Spider veins are most commonly found on the legs and face, so shielding those areas is especially important.
Sunscreen should be an essential step in your daily skincare routine. Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before sun exposure and reapply approximately every two hours. Do not focus only on areas that are susceptible to vein conditions – apply sunscreen anywhere there is exposed skin, including the ears, lips, backs of hands, tops of feet, and top of head if necessary.
The American Academy of Dermatology suggests using a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher. Remember to use extra caution near water, snow, and sand as they reflect the damaging rays of the sun.
Spider Vein Treatment Options & Aftercare
Even if you take precautions, some people are simply predisposed to developing spider veins. At Advanced Varicose Vein Treatments of Manhattan, we offer a range of treatment options for spider veins, including:
Sclerotherapy: This treatment uses an injectable fluid (or sclerosant), which works by irritating the walls of the affected blood vessels, causing them to collapse and close. The blood is rerouted naturally to healthy veins nearby, and circulation adjusts.
Foam Sclerotherapy: This minimally invasive technique uses a thicker solution to treat larger spider veins. As with standard sclerotherapy, the problematic vein is closed and blood flow reroutes through healthy veins.
IPL Therapy: Intense pulsed light (IPL therapy) treats spider veins by using a non-laser, high-intensity light source to generate heat and collapse the affected veins.
VeinGogh: This innovative treatment delivers electrical energy to the visible veins, causing the blood inside to coagulate and the vein to collapse. The treated vein can then be eliminated by the body and circulation is restored to nearby vessels.
Following treatment, veins near the surface of the skin are especially vulnerable to sun damage. Patients should take additional care to protect their skin from UV exposure using the steps above.
Though the painful redness and peeling of a sunburn will eventually fade, some sun damage is permanent and may not be apparent until later in life. Spider veins are a common cosmetic problem that affects a large number of men and women as they age. Fortunately, treatments are available to remove them and restore a smooth, youthful appearance. To learn more about these procedures or schedule a consultation, contact Advanced Varicose Vein Treatments of Manhattan today at 212-204-6501.