Varicose Veins Vs. Spider Veins

Varicose veins and spider veins can both be bothersome, but there are some differences between the two. Here’s what you need to know about the difference between spider veins and varicose veins.


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

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.

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?

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 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!