How Do Spider Veins Differ from Varicose Veins?

Varicose Veins, spider veins, North Atlanta Vascular Clinic

Spider veins vs. varicose veins. What's the difference between the two? Both are swollen, twisted veins that show up on the body, usually a woman's legs.

Varicose veins are ropey and swollen. Most often, varicose veins are on the legs. Spider veins are thin and twisted. They show up as red, purple, or blue-ish lines. These veins show up on the legs and sometimes, even on the face. The two types of veins may look similar, but treatment can differ.

What causes vein dysfunction?

Faulty valves cause both varicose and spider veins. Normal blood flow runs through your arteries to feed your body with oxygen and nutrients. The blood is then carried back to your heart through your veins. The veins should have a valve that pushes the blood toward the heart. But in some people, these valves fail and don’t close. So, the blood pools or leaks backward. This causes the walls of the vein to degrade, swell, and become visible underneath the skin.

What’s the difference?

Varicose veins are larger and more swollen. They're usually red or blue. And appear on the calves, the inside of the legs, ankles, and on the thighs. Pregnant women can develop varicose veins around the lower pelvis and buttocks, too.

Spider veins are much smaller than varicose veins. They’re almost thread-like and twist and turn like spider webs. They're usually red or purple. And unlike varicose veins, they don’t bulge.

Are varicose veins and spider veins dangerous?

Some varicose and spider veins can swell and cause slight discomfort. Some veins can bleed or develop clots. You may even find they interfere with your ability to do daily activities. Keep in mind, these are extreme cases. Most women don't experience any serious pain. But, these veins can cause insecurities. The good news is there are treatment options.

How does treatment differ?

For mild cases of spider and varicose veins in your legs, support stockings can help. They combat the fatigue and swelling associated with vein dysfunction. Keeping your weight healthy and exercising regularly can also help ease discomfort.

For spider veins and small varicose veins, sclerotherapy can be effective. The treatment injects a concentrated saline solution, or another compound, into the vein. Which causes the vein to disappear over time.

Lasers are also used to treat spider veins. The heat dissolves the abnormal pigmentation; without using needles or injected compounds.

Varicose veins usually need more intensive treatments than spider veins. Radiofrequency occlusion can be a great option. During this treatment, the radiofrequency energy damages the wall inside the vein. Which collapses the varicose vein so it’s no longer visible.

Endovenous laser treatment is another option for varicose veins. Doctors insert a small laser fiber into the vein, the light from which causes the vein to collapse. Very large varicose veins may need more in-depth surgical procedures.

At North Atlanta Vascular Clinic we listen to your vein complaints. Then, we determine the right treatment for you. Contact us today and schedule an appointment.

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