Spider veins, also known as telangiectasia, are enlarged venules (small veins) that cause red or blue spider web-like patterns on the skin. These patterns are commonly found on the legs and face. While spider veins do not generally cause any severe symptoms, mild pain and discomfort are relatively common, and they are considered aesthetically unpleasing by many. 

While there are numerous myths surrounding spider vein prevention, there is unfortunately no foolproof way to prevent them from occurring. Here are eight of the most common myths we’ve come across in our time as  Atlanta vein specialists.

1. Exercise Can Prevent Spider Veins

While it has been well-established that one of the most important and effective way to prevent varicose veins and a range of other diseases is by exercising, the effect of exercise on spider vein prevention is less pronounced. In terms of varicose veins, exercise helps prevent their development in three main ways: It helps increase your circulation, it builds muscle mass and increases the muscle tone in the legs and it helps you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. On the other hand, spider veins are thought to be caused mainly by a combination of genetics, hormonal changes and sun exposure, so exercise is of limited use in spider vein prevention.

2. Eating Healthy Can Prevent Spider Veins

There is some evidence suggesting that healthy dietary habits can lower the risk of vein diseases like varicose veins. However, as the causes of spider veins are largely genetic or hormonal, they can affect anyone at any time, irrespective of their dietary habits.

3. Avoiding Excessive Alcohol Intake Can Prevent Spider Veins

As with many other myths, there is actually a grain of truth to this one. While limiting your alcohol consumption will not prevent spider veins from occurring, heavy alcohol consumption is known to be associated with various skin and vascular changes due to the effects of alcohol on blood flow in the vessels.

4. Wearing Sunscreen Can Prevent Spider Veins

Again, this myth is partly true. As mentioned above, ultraviolet radiation from sun exposure has been implicated as a potential risk factor and cause of spider veins. Covering up or wearing sunscreen will not only reduce the risk of spider veins but also the risks of premature skin aging and skin cancer. However, as excessive sun exposure is only one of the potential factors responsible for the development of spider veins, they can still develop even if you can avoid the direct sun as much as possible.

5. Sitting or Standing for Prolonged Periods Can Cause Spider Veins

Prolonged sitting and standing are known to be risk factors for varicose veins and other vein diseases, such as blood clots. If you have a job that requires long periods of sitting, make sure to take frequent breaks to stretch your legs. On the other hand, if your job requires you to stand for prolonged periods, make sure to take breaks and sit down every so often, and when you do, try to keep your legs slightly elevated as this facilitates circulation in the legs. Spider veins frequently occur in places other than the legs, so prolonged periods of standing or sitting may not have any effects on the development of spider veins.

6. Uncrossing Your Legs When Sitting Can Prevent Spider Veins

Similarly to myth No. 5 above, sitting with your legs crossed can indeed increase the risk of varicose veins developing as this constricts the blood flow going to and from the legs. Ideally, your feet should be flat against the ground, but if you feel like you need to cross them, it is preferable to do so at the ankles rather than at the thighs. The effect of crossing your legs on the development of spider veins is less marked.

7. Wearing Tight Clothes and High Heels Can Cause Spider Veins

Wearing clothing that is too tight over the hips, legs and ankles can reduce blood flow and thereby increase the risk of vein disease. Similarly, wearing high heels, particularly if you have a job that requires a lot of standing or moving, is known to be bad for your leg muscles, whereas sensible and supportive shoes can have the opposite effect. In terms of spider veins, it is possible that wearing tight clothes may be a minor contributor to their development, but wearing loose clothing and sensible shoes will unfortunately not necessarily prevent them from occurring.

8. Wearing Compression Stockings Can Prevent Spider Veins

Compression socks are known to be very effective for reducing the risk of vein disease in the legs, especially if you have a family history of  varicose veins or certain other blood clotting disorders or if you have one or more risk factors for developing varicose veins. If you are required to sit or stand for an extended period (e.g. during a long flight), compression stockings can help not only in preventing blood from pooling in your veins, but also in alleviating potential aches and cramps. However, as spider veins can develop anywhere on the body, the effects of compression stockings on spider veins are limited.

So in conclusion, don’t believe everything you have been told about the different methods of spider vein prevention. While there may be some truth to these myths and leading a healthy lifestyle will help lower your risk of numerous other diseases, there is sadly no foolproof way of preventing spider veins from developing. Luckily, there are several relatively easy spider vein removal techniques available if they do.