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How to Recognize and Treat Spider Angiomas

Spider angiomas often disappear as quietly as they show up. You wouldn’t even know you had the skin condition, except that it frequently forms on the face and other visible areas such as the neck, upper trunk and arms. Also called spider nevus, spider angiomas vary in size from 1-10 mm in diameter, and are characterized as a vascular lesion.

The condition is named for its hallmark, spider-like shape: a central, red dot surrounded by tiny blood vessels that radiate outward.

The vascular lesion is common, harmless, and does not discriminate. Children, men and women can all develop spider angiomas. While the lesions themselves are benign, the evidence of spider angiomas can sometimes signal an internal disorder or hormonal imbalance. The condition often develops when there are excess levels of estrogen in the body due to pregnancy or the birth control pill. Also, liver disease can cause spider angiomas when the liver fails to process estrogen like it normally would. Those with thyrotoxicosis, or hyperthyroidism, may also be prone to spider angiomas.

Treatment is usually unnecessary as spider angiomas clear up when the underlying hormonal imbalance is corrected. For pregnant women, the condition disappears between six weeks to nine months postpartum. This time frame also holds true for women who discontinue the birth control pill. If you are dealing with cirrhosis, regression occurs after liver transplantation.

Spider Angioma Removal Options

Though spider angioma removal is medically unnecessary, some patients seek treatment for cosmetic reasons. The following procedures may successfully remove this type of lesion. All three are directed at applying heat to the tissues in order to seal off the blood vessels that form the spider angioma.

  • Intense Pulsed Light (IPL): heat from light pulses seals off the blood vessels
  • Electrocautery: electrical current is applied via a needle to seal off the blood vessels
  • Laser surgery: directed laser beam seals off the vessels

There is a slight risk that these procedures will cause scarring. Left untreated, some spider angiomas are permanent, others fade over time. Visit your local Southern CA vascular surgeon if you are bothered by spider angiomas.

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