Spider veins and varicose veins often appear together, but that doesn’t mean they’re the same thing.
Spider veins and varicose veins often appear side-by-side on legs and share some of the same symptoms of venous insufficiency. Yet each condition is quite different from the other.
Spider veins emerge closer to the surface layer of the skin and show up as a thin, tangled web of red, purple, or blue veins. Spider veins frequently occur on the legs, but also may be seen on the face or chest.
Varicose veins form much deeper within the leg veins. Larger than spider veins, varicose veins protrude outward from the top layer of skin as thick, knotted purple-, red-, or blue-colored ropes.
Spider veins and varicose veins have a common underlying cause: The inability of the valves in the legs to pump blood back to the heart. This forces the blood to pool and stretch the veins to the point where varicose veins or spider veins develop. Obesity; lack of exercise; a job that requires sitting or standing for long periods; heredity; and pregnancy all contribute to the progression of spider veins and varicose veins.
How Spider Veins and Varicose Veins Differ
While the source of each condition overlaps, spider veins and varicose veins display some distinct differences. Spider veins rarely produce pronounced symptoms. Nevertheless, spider veins sometimes itch, burn, or sting. If rubbed too strongly, spider veins may bleed. Otherwise, spider veins are considered more of a cosmetic issue for many people.
Conversely, varicose veins come with a slew of symptoms that can hamper the sufferer’s quality of life. Pain, swelling, throbbing, a feeling of heaviness in the legs, cramps, and restless leg syndrome at night typically accompany varicose veins. Varicose veins might also bleed and lead to skin ulcers.
What’s more, varicose veins are associated with deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or a blood clot in the leg. If the clot travels to the lung, DVT could be life-threatening.
How are Spider Veins and Varicose Veins Treated
Therapy for spider veins and varicose veins involves closing off the damaged vein so blood diverts to nearby healthy veins. Sclerotherapy is the primary treatment option for spider veins, although it can be used to eliminate varicose veins as well.
In sclerotherapy, a concentrated saltwater solution is injected into the vein. This action promotes the formation of scar tissue that eventually closes off the vein and erases the spider veins.
Varicose veins treatments range from laser and radiofrequency waves pulsed through the vein to collapse the vein wall. Another option is ambulatory phlebectomy for large varicose veins. Local anesthesia is applied to the area and the vein is then removed through a small incision.
All these procedures are performed on an outpatient basis, and patients return to their normal activities within a day or two. Patients who have spider and varicose veins or are at risk for them can take some precautions to prevent their formation or minimize the symptoms.
People who must remain seated at a desk or stand upright for their jobs should stretch their leg muscles by taking frequent walks or resting their legs. This keeps the blood pumping in the legs. Wearing compression stockings that provide extra support to the leg veins also helps inhibit spider veins and varicose veins.
Are You Ready to Treat Your Spider Veins and Varicose Veins?
Siragusa Vein & Laser offers a variety of surgical and conservative solutions for spider veins and varicose veins. We’ll guide you to the therapy you are most comfortable with and gives you the best results. Contact us today for a free vein treatment screening.