Spider veins (telangiectasias) are small purple to red blood vessels often visible on the leg, ankle or foot. Occasionally, spider veins will appear on the face. The cause is unknown, but heredity plays a strong role in the development of this condition. These should not be confused with varicose veins, which are larger, deeper veins that are usually lumpy and sometimes deeper purple in color. Varicose veins may sometimes cause leg discomfort, whereas spider veins are usually pain free. The oldest and most common treatment for spider veins on the legs is sclerotherapy. This involves injections of a sclerosing agent into the veins, which irritates the vessels, causing them to scar and become less noticeable. Some surgeons use a concentrated (hypertonic) saline solution, while others use different sclerosing agents. Often, the veins do not actually go away, but become less visible because of the reaction around the walls of the vein. The injections may sting a bit, especially if saline is used, but the discomfort does not last long.
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