Summer.  Time to show off the gams, especially now that they’re toned from all the running (with walk breaks) that you’ve been doing!

But, for the last few years, I’ve seen a noticeable change in the look of my legs–I have these little squiggly things happening all over, especially around my thighs.  My grandmother had them, and so does my mother.  Age, genetics, hormones, extra weight, menopause . . . these are the main culprits behind those annoying little “spider veins” that mysteriously appear and spread all around your legs . . . like a road map that leads to nowhere.

And, the really frustrating thing is that even if you spend the time and money to zap them away (see suggestions below) . . . new ones inevitably pop up, especially if you — like me — are genetically inclined.

What to do?  I put this question to Dr. Patricia Wexler, a key expert I interviewed for my chapter on skin care in The Best of Everything After 50.  Here’s what she recommends:

Get rid of them  . . . but keep in mind that new ones will appear eventually, so you may need to redo the treatment every 2 – 3 years.

  • Sclerotherapy:  This is the gold standard for treating spider veins, because it works.  The veins are injected with a saline solution that causes them to collapse and disappear.  Voila’! Magically gone.  Cost can range from $250 – $600 per treatment.
  • Laser Treatment: This is a newer approach to treating spider veins, and doctors often use this in combination with sclerotherapy.  The cost is about the same.

 Prevent them . . . not always easy, but there are definitely things you can do to help:

  • Raise your legs:  This is especially useful for varicose veins, but I’ve found that fewer spider veins have been appearing since I started to do this.  Lie on a yoga mat or rug with your tush against the wall, and put your legs straight up, leaning on the wall for support.  It feels good for alot of reasons, and lets all the blood flow back down from your feet and legs.  It really helps with swelling that can sometimes occur in the feet and ankles at the end of a long day.  Put some olive oil in your hair as a pre-wash conditioner, some tea bags on your eyes and . . . relax.  All good.
  • Lose weight: The more extra weight you have on your legs . . . the more your veins will expand and show.
  • Exercise your body: Moving will reduce the pressure on your veins and keep your blood flowing. 

Cover them up . . . especially if you don’t want to endure the prick of the sclerotherapy needles, or spend the money:

  • Use a self-tanner (not a real tan!!):  Use a self-tanner all year long to help camouflage the veins.  In the cooler months, use a moisturizer that gradually tans (Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer is a good choice) and in summer, try a true self-tanning or instant bronzing product (L’Oreal Paris Sublime Bronze Luminous Bronzer Self-Tanning Lotion is great).
  • Try leg makeup:  Leg makeup is especially useful if you’re going out, and don’t want to wear stockings.  Great choices include Sally Hansen Airbrush Leg Makeup (my favorite) or Scott Barnes Body Bling (available at Victoria’s Secret).

Okay . . . get that box out of the closet with your summer skirts and shorts . . . you’re ready now.

Best of everything,