Reticular Veins/Spider Veins

Spider veins (telangiectases) are dilated blood vessels visible as blue or red streaks, webs, or clumps located in the skin itself. They are different than varicose veins which are bulging lumps underneath the skin. Spiders occur anywhere but are most frequent on the thigh and calf of the lower extremities. They are permanent once they appear and tend to increase in number over time, but do not grow at a predictable rate. Spider veins drain into collecting veins at the base of the skin called reticular veins which are larger and usually of a greenish or bluish tint; reticular veins may be visible or non-visible to the naked eye. Identification and treatment of the reticular veins is an important part of success in controlling spider veins.


These veins are a frequent cause of cosmetic discomfort in Arizona where the weather is warm and the legs are exposed. They usually are not a cause of symptoms beyond the cosmetic discomfort, but in some instances they are attended by itching, burning, heaviness, or fatigue in the legs. Some individuals worry that spider veins are the beginning of more advanced venous disease.

Occasionally superficial spider veins rupture and cause spontaneous bleeding (hemorrhage) that surprises and shocks the individual. These hemorrhages occur at sites where particularly delicate thin skin covers the spiders; this usually happens in the ankle or foot but can occur on the calf or even the thigh. In all instances except actual hemorrhage spiders are considered a cosmetic problem and are not covered by insurance policies, including Medicare.