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What Are The Main Causes Of Spider Veins?

Although commonly confused, spider veins and varicose veins are not the same. Varicose veins affect larger veins that are located deeper in the skin than spider veins. Spider veins occur close to the skinís surface, and they are not swollen or visibly raised as varicose veins can be. However, the main causes of both varicose and spider veins are similar.


Spider veins affect veins that are near the skinís surface, and they appear in short, often jagged patterns. The patterns can resemble a spiderís web or a tree branch. Spider veins are commonly found on the face and on the legs. A person may have just a few in one small area, or they could have a patch of spider veins affecting a larger portion of skin.

How They Form

Healthy blood vessels have a flap that prevents blood from flowing back into veins as blood travels throughout the body. Spider veins occur when weakened blood vessels are unable to close the flap to prevent blood from flowing back into the vein. This allows blood to accumulate throughout the length of the vein, making it visible. There are numerous causes of the weakening that occurs in veins.


Aging is one cause of the weakening of blood vessels that result in spider veins. As the body ages, tissues often weaken. The weak blood vessels are unable to transport blood as efficiently throughout the body as it did when the body was younger, and the weakened vessels can allow for a backup of blood to occur in the vessel.

Family and Medical History

Some people have weaker blood vessels at birth then other people, and this condition often runs in families...and tends to be one of the more prominent main causes of spider veins. If you have a medical history of vascular problems due to weak veins, then your chances of getting them are much higher than for someone with normally functioning veins.

UVA/UVB Sun Exposure

Excessive sun exposure and repeated sunburns damage surface/epidermis tissue leading to capillary damage. This is most prominent for the appearance of facial spider veins - especially around or on the nose. Also, UVA/UVB skin damage exposes tissue and veins to free-radical damage that damages and destroys cell membranes. This weakens and thins facial tissue, increases exposure of veins to damage and weakens walls and valves of micro-capillaries on the face.

Changes in Hormones

Changes in hormones during certain parts of a personís life increase the likelihood of spider veins. Puberty causes a radical change in hormone production in both males and females, and women also undergo hormonal changes during both pregnancy and menopause. These hormonal changes cause blood vessels to weaken, allowing spider veins to develop.


Obesity is another common cause of spider veins. Because an obese person is carrying extra weight, it puts more pressure on the blood vessels, which can cause them to weaken. In addition, many people that are overweight also have problems with clogging of veins, which can put an obese person at more risk of having spider veins due to blood pressure increases as blood is pumped throughout the body.

Lack of Movement

Both sitting and standing for long periods of time can cause spider veins. When you are inactive, your body has to work harder to re-circulate blood to your heart. This causes a strain on blood vessels, which will cause them to weaken over time. Sitting with your legs bent at an angle or crossed will also cause your veins to work harder, increasing your risk of spider veins.
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