The Difference Between Varicose Veins and Spider Veins

a person with varicose veins on leg

The terms spider and varicose veins are often used interchangeably when addressing swollen, raised, or small red and blue veins on your legs. While both terms may sound similar, they are different conditions that affect your veins in different ways.

According to a report, more than 40 million people in the U.S. have varicose veins, and the numbers are equally astonishing for spider veins. 

Wondering what vein disease is responsible for those unappealing marks on your legs? Many people struggle with varicose and spider veins, but knowing the difference can help you find the right treatment.

Below you’ll find everything about the difference between varicose and spider veins, such as the causes, symptoms, and treatment options.

Tired of feeling self-conscious about your varicose and spider vein condition? We can help. Call us today at 877-673-4818 to schedule an appointment.

The Difference Between Varicose and Spider Veins 

From physical appearance and symptoms, varicose and spider veins might appear similar, but there exist some significant differences. Here’s a detailed comparison of both conditions: 

What are Varicose Veins?

These are swollen, twisted veins that often appear blue or purple and are visible just under the skin’s surface. Similar to other vein diseases, varicose veins are also found in the legs but may occur in other body parts. 

Varicose veins start appearing on the skin when the valves in the veins that help regulate blood flow become damaged or weakened, causing blood to pool in the veins and bulge and twist. 

If not treated on time, varicose veins can cause discomfort, pain, and swelling, sometimes leading to more serious complications such as blood clots, skin ulcers, and bleeding.

What are Spider Veins?

Also known as telangiectasias, spider veins are tiny, thin blood vessels visible through the skin. They appear as blue, red or purple lines resembling tree branches of a spider’s web. While this vein condition is commonly found on the legs and face, it can also appear on other body parts.

The primary cause of spider veins is the dilation of small blood vessels close to the skin’s surface. Various factors, including genetics and aging, can also cause them. 

Spider veins are not typically harmful to your health, but they can be unsightly and cause discomfort or itching.

Varicose Veins and Spider Veins: The Causes

From physical appearance and symptoms, varicose and spider veins might appear similar, but there exist some significant differences. Here’s a detailed comparison of both conditions: 

Varicose Veins 

Weak vein walls and valves are responsible for varicose veins. Below you’ll find more reasons why the valves get weak and cause the protruding veins to appear through the skin.

  • Obesity 

Being overweight puts enormous pressure on your veins, thus, they have to work harder to pump the blood back to your heart. It can put extra pressure on the valves, increasing the chances of leakages. The impact of body weight on varicose veins appears to be more significant in women. 

When combined with an occupation that requires sitting for hours, the probability of varicose veins increases dramatically. 

  • Gender 

While varicose veins appear in both genders, women are more likely to be affected by the condition. Studies suggest that it may be due to the production of female hormones released during menopause or premenstrual syndrome that makes the valves prone to leaking.

  • An Underlying Medical Condition 

Even a small blood clot can affect the blood-pumping action of the body, making the valves weak, and they eventually leak, resulting in varicose veins. Certain medical conditions can contribute to the development of varicose veins. 

For example, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) can cause damage to the valves in the veins, leading to the development of varicose veins. Additionally, conditions that increase pressure in the abdomen, such as a tumor or constipation, can contribute to the development of varicose veins.

  • Trauma to the Legs

Injuries to the legs, such as fractures or muscle tears, can damage the veins and contribute to the development of varicose veins. Additionally, surgery on the legs can increase the risk of developing varicose veins.

Spider Veins 

As explained, the dilation of small blood vessels is responsible for forming the thin red, blue vein in the skin. Some other factors that can progress the formation of spider veins include:

  • Genetics

The Academic Surgery Journal reported that up to 90% of people with spider veins have a family history. If other family members have spider veins, you may also be more likely to develop them.

  • Hormonal Changes

Fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone levels, such as during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, can lead to the development of spider veins. For example, during pregnancy, the body produces more female hormones, which can cause the walls of the blood vessels to relax and widen. Hormonal changes during menopause can also lead to the development of spider veins.

Furthermore, topical steroids and a low-fiber diet can also result in spider veins, reported by NCBI in an educational activity. 

  • Aging

As we age, the skin and blood vessels become less elastic and weaker, making it easier for spider veins to form. The walls of the veins lose their elasticity and are more likely to dilate and form varicose veins. That’s why most people with spider veins are over 50. Older adults with a sedentary lifestyle are more prone to this vein disease.

  • Sun exposure

Ironically, some individuals welcome sun exposure hoping that a nice tan will help cover up the protruding veins, but it can have the opposite effect. Prolonged sun exposure can damage the skin and blood vessels, which can cause spider veins to develop. 

  • Prolonged Sitting or Standing

Activities and jobs requiring long periods of sitting or standing can make it more difficult for blood to flow properly, contributing to the development of varicose veins. When we sit or stand for extended periods, blood can pool in the veins in the legs, weakening valves and walls.

Varicose Veins and Spider Veins: The Symptoms

Besides those unsightly marks, both varicose and spider veins have several symptoms, and most of them are similar. Below we’ve compiled a list of symptoms to help you determine which vein disease you have.

Varicose Veins 

  • Bulging and twisted veins that appear blue or purple in color, usually on the legs or feet.
  • Aching or throbbing pain in the legs, especially after standing or sitting for long periods of time.
  • Swelling or inflammation in the affected area.
  • Skin discoloration or dryness around the affected area
  • Heavy feeling or fatigue in the legs, especially at the end of the day
  • Cramping or muscle soreness in the legs.

Spider Veins 

  • Visible red, blue, or purple veins that appear close to the surface of the skin, usually on the legs or face.
  • Mild swelling or aching in the affected area.
  • Burning or itching sensation around the veins.
  • Discomfort when standing or sitting for long periods of time.

✍️ An Important Note:

Not all people with spider or varicose veins experience symptoms, and some may have no symptoms at all. However, if you experience any of these symptoms, you must consult Dr. Ron Mark – The Vein Doctor in Long Island for diagnosis and treatment.

Varicose Veins and Spider Veins: Treatment Options

Because varicose and spider veins both conditions are both under the skin and related to veins, the treatment options are the same. The intensity of the procedure might be more depending on the severity of the issue and the extent of the affected area. 

Here are some common treatment options that can help you eliminate those marks making your legs beautiful again.

  • Endovenous Laser Treatment or EVLT

EVLT is a minimally invasive medical procedure used to treat varicose and spider veins. During the process, a small laser fiber is inserted into the affected vein through a tiny incision, usually made in the leg. 

The laser therapy emits a beam of energy that heats and damages the vein walls, causing them to collapse and seal shut. Blood is then rerouted to other healthy veins, and the body gradually absorbs the treated vein.

EVLT is considered a safe and effective treatment for varicose and spider veins, with a high success rate and low risk of complications. Moreover, the spider and varicose vein treatment doesn’t require significant downtime (7 to 10 days, as the physician recommends). And you can return to your normal routine after that period.

  • Sclerotherapy Treatment

If the varicose veins are small and in the initial stages, sclerotherapy treatment is an effective yet painless way to remove them. Besides leg veins, this method can treat varicose veins in calves, ankles, buttocks, and arms.

During the non-invasive procedure, a solution called a sclerosant is injected directly into the affected veins through a fine needle. The solution irritates the affected veins causing them to stick together and then blocking their blood supply. 

When the veins are blocked, healthier veins receive more blood, and the affected ones turn into scar tissue and fade away after some time. 

Sclerotherapy treatment is less invasive than traditional vein-stripping surgery and can be performed in a doctor’s office or outpatient clinic without the need for general anesthesia.

  • Microphlebectomy Treatment

Microphlebectomy is a minimally invasive medical procedure used to remove larger varicose veins that are too thick to be treated with sclerotherapy or laser treatment. During the procedure, small incisions around 1/8th inch in size are made in the skin to allow the surgeon to access the affected vein and remove it piece by piece.

Usually performed in an outpatient setting using only local anesthesia, the procedure has a shorter downtime than vein surgery methods but requires you to wear compression stockings.

  • Microfoam Treatment

This is the only FDA-approved method for treating varicose and spider veins with their symptoms. The process works by destroying the lining of weak walls, which triggers an inflammatory response to close the affected vein (up to 12 mm).

During the process, a certified varicose vein physician in New York injects foam medicine into the affected vein under the guidance of an ultrasound. After injecting the foam, the vein collapses after some time and is naturally absorbed by the body. 

In addition to improving the appearance of varicose and spider veins, the Microfoam treatment is beneficial for relieving symptoms, including swelling, itching, and throbbing.

At Mark Medical Care, we assess your condition carefully to determine the type of vein disease and its severity. Next, we recommend a treatment option that suits your condition and satisfies your aesthetic goals.

What’s the Right Time to Get Varicose or Spider Veins Treated?

The right time to get varicose and spider veins treated depends on several factors, including the severity of the condition, the presence of symptoms, and your preferences. Here are some guidelines to help you determine when to seek treatment:

  • If you are experiencing symptoms such as pain, swelling, itching, or fatigue, seeking treatment as soon as possible is a good idea.
  • If you are concerned about the appearance of spider veins or varicose veins, you may want to consider treatment for cosmetic reasons.
  • If you have a family history of vein problems or are at risk for developing complications such as blood clots, it may be a good idea to get treatment early on to prevent more severe health issues from developing.
  • If your job requires long periods of standing or sitting, or if you lead a sedentary lifestyle, you may be at increased risk for developing varicose veins.

Ultimately, seeking treatment for varicose or spider veins is a personal decision. If you are experiencing symptoms or are concerned about the appearance of your veins, it’s important to consult with a vein specialist in St. Nicholas to discuss your options and determine the best course of action for your individual needs.

Visit Mark Medical Care and Eliminate Varicose and Spider Veins Safely without Pain

At Mark Medical Care, we have certified and trained physicians that use the most advanced minimally and non-invasive methods to remove varicose and spider veins. Our treatment options are highly effective and have less downtime than an expensive spider and varicose vein surgery methods. 

We recommend the best treatments based on the severity of the condition and your goals to give you beautiful legs and skin you’ll love to flaunt.

Varicose veins are common, but they don’t have to be a part of your life. Speak to our friendly representatives at 877-673-4818 and fill out this form to schedule a consultation. 

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