Varicose Veins Vs. Spider Veins
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Varicose Veins Vs. Spider Veins

Varicose veins and spider veins can both be bothersome, but there are some differences between the two.

Spider veins and varicose veins are often confused, and used as interchangeable terms. While spider veins and varicose veins can result from the same conditions, and have some similarities, they’re different – from their appearance, symptoms, and health risks. Let’s explore what they are, their differences, and their removal.

Here’s what you need to know about the difference between spider veins and varicose veins.

Varicose Veins Vs. Spider Veins

What are Spider veins?

Spider veins are clusters of tiny blood vessels that usually develop close to the surface of the skin. They can be blue, red or purple in color, and may look similar to tiny spider webs – hence the name “spider vein.” Spider veins are most commonly located on the face and legs, and can cover either a small or large area of skin.

Varicose Veins Vs. Spider Veins

The appearance of this vein condition is less intense than varicose veins, but you’ll probably still hide your legs. They’re usually the first step to developing varicose veins, if your vein valves and vein walls continue to weaken.

Spider veins are coined from their spider-like appearance. They even look like little purplish-red and blue sunbursts radiating from a center. They’re blood vessels close to the surface of the skin, but aren’t seriously inflamed. They’re most common in your legs, but can make appearances on your hands, nose, cheeks, and arms.

Spider veins rarely display any pain or symptoms, besides their appearance, and don’t pose any immediate medical problem. Because of this, they’re often seen as a cosmetic issue, and insurances will not cover treatment.

What are Varicose veins?

Varicose veins also appear at the surface of the skin, but unlike spider veins, they are abnormally enlarged. They can be blue or purple in color, but usually remain flesh colored. When varicose veins develop around the leg, they can twist, dilate, and even bulge out of the leg. Varicose veins are commonly found on the thighs, back of the calves, or even on the inside of the leg. In certain rare cases, pregnant women have been known to develop varicose veins around the buttocks.

Varicose veins are often classified as the extreme version of spider veins. They’re large and twisted, dark blue and purple, and can appear anywhere on the legs, including your ankles and groin. Unlike spider veins, this condition is usually accompanied by pain, leg swelling, aches, leg tiredness, fatigue, and numbness.

Varicose Veins Vs. Spider Veins

They appear when vein valves and walls are stressed and under too much pressure. They weaken over time, your veins inflame, and you get the perfect formula for the large bulbous purplish-blue veins on your legs.

Varicose veins can grow larger over time, causing more issues. Without treatment, varicose veins may lead to serious health problems such as blood clots, leg ulcers, open sores, and phlebitis.

This condition poses more of a health risk, and is less likely to be viewed as a cosmetic issue so insurances may cover it. Varicose veins are also close to the surface, and are pumping blood in reverse, causing buildup in your legs.

Varicose veins are much more uncomfortable and unsightly. While health may be a concern in their removal, aesthetics and appearance may be as well.

What causes spider & varicose veins?

Varicose veins are the result of weak or damaged valves within the veins. Veins carry blood from all areas of the body back to the heart for it to be replenished with oxygen and nutrients. The leg muscles must pump blood back up the veins, against gravity, in order to reach the heart. If the valves are defective or weak, the veins may have some back flow.  As the back flow of blood builds up, the veins begin to enlarge, leading to the formation of varicose veins. Spider veins are also caused by the backflow of blood, but they can also appear due to hormone changes, overexposure to sunlight, or physical injuries.

What’s the difference?

The main difference between the two vein conditions is their appearance. Varicose veins bulge out of the skin, while spider veins are normally just brighter in color and remain at the surface of the skin without bulging. Also, varicose veins can sometimes be painful – a trait not normally attributed to spider veins. Lastly, spider veins are more likely to appear due to obesity, genetics, and pregnancy.

Can varicose veins or spider veins be prevented?

Genetics plays a large role in the development of varicose veins and spider veins, but there are some preventative measures you can take to help lower your risk. Exercising regularly to increase circulation and vein strength, controlling your weight, elevating your legs and wearing support stockings can help lower the risk of enlarged veins. It’s also helpful not to sit or stand for prolonged periods of time.

How are varicose veins & spider veins treated?

Removal of spider veins and varicose veins

Removal of spider veins and varicose veins is affordable and may be covered by your insurance. Treatment has never been quicker and less painful. It’s a quick and easy process that will get you looking and feeling better in no time, and onto a road of recovery.

While spider veins may go away over time, varicose veins usually do not, and require treatment. Treatment of these venous diseases can alleviate pain, nasty appearances, and reduce your risk of serious health issues in the future.

Spider vein and varicose vein treatment range from simple, at-home methods such as wearing compression stockings for the early stages, to invasive surgical procedures such as stripping the veins (In the old days) or cosmetic methods such as sclerotherapy or more minimally invasive procedures like laser Ablation treatments, Sclerotherapy and Radio Frequency Ablation therapy. RF Ablation is a technique using radio frequency waves to shrink or close enlarged veins. This will treat the underlying problem and those spider veins and varicose veins won’t come back anymore. Since the technique is minimally invasive, it typically involves less pain, bruising, and recovery time. In addition, newer Ablation techniques such as ClariVein Occlusion allow for heat free removal of veins in a matter of minutes.

To learn more about minimally invasive treatments for varicose and spider veins, contact the office of Dr. Kaveh, M.D. at (702) 233 1849 today!

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