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What Are Reticular Veins?

Reticular veins are a frequently occurring problem similar to varicose and spider veins. While they are a common occurrence, not many persons have heard of them. This is because their appearance and complications are mild to moderate. In the scientific world reticular veins are also called intradermal varices. Other names include feeder and blue veins.

They commonly appear on the thighs and legs. Some appear on the face and are referred to as facial reticular veins. When on the face they appear mostly in the temple and around the eyes. These types are mostly hereditary, but likewise have no associated medical complications.

They range in diameter from 1 mm to about 3 mm and can be either greenish or bluish. They are generally deeper than spider veins. While there are generally no medical implications, some people with the condition report a burning or itching sensation.

Causes

People develop the condition because the blood vessels are weak or become damaged. This weakness may be genetic or hormonal. Once this happens, the valves themselves may also become weak, which eventually causes the blood to flow backwards. It is the backward flow of blood that results in this particular condition.

Being overweight places strain on blood vessels and impacts blood flow which can result in reticular veins. Other causes include periods of prolonged sitting or standing and old age. Pregnancy can also lead to their development. Gender doesn't play a role, as both males and females can have the condition.

Treatment

A few treatment options are available for this particular condition. The one used depends on the size of the veins and how unattractive they are. Two of the most widely used procedures involve the use of needles. These treatment methods include sclerotherapy, miniphlebectomy and laser.

With miniphlebectomy, small portions of the veins are pulled through tiny puncture holes in the skin. The needle used to make the holes is about the same size as those used to administer injections. The resulting pinhole scars are generally very tiny and barely visible. For many people this is preferable to the unsightly blue or green network.

In sclerotherapy, the affected veins are injected with a solution, known as a sclerosant. Common sclerosants include sodium tetrodecol, polidocanol and glycerine. The solution causes them to either vanish or become smaller. This is a minimally invasive procedure with very little downtime for the patient.

A study published in the journal Arch Dermatology in 2000 indicates that pulsed alexandrite laser treatment is very effective. It has been found that reticular and spider veins react positively to treatment with intense pulse light therapy. This method is often employed when other treatments, such as laser and sclerotheraphy, do not work.

When reticular veins appear on the face, different treatment options are recommended than those used for the legs. Laser treatment is the most popular option for those on the face. No matter which treatment is used on the face, dermatological complications may result. One such condition is purpura. With purpura the skin becomes blue or purple as the blood vessels under the skin start to bleed.

There is now medication and natural supplements that are used as treatment. These are readily available and used more in Europe than in the USA. These are a combination of oral and external treatments. Many of these treatments are not FDA-approved.

Prevention

Like other vein problems this one can be prevented to some extent. Controlling body weight and wearing compression stockings (support hoses) are the two main methods of keeping them at bay. Avoiding long periods of standing or sitting is important as well. If a job requires a lot of sitting, then take frequents breaks to walk around. For jobs that demand standing for extended periods, take "sit-down" breaks and do elevate your legs while doing so.

While not a medical problem, reticular veins tend to cause cosmetic concerns, especially among women. Those on the thigh and legs are hard to deal with, but those on the face are more traumatic for those affected. Getting rid of reticular veins is thankfully not a major issue and tends to be successful in most cases.

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