Spider veins and varicose veins tend to appear as we age, appearing more frequently in women. However, they can represent more than just a cosmetic annoyance. Some leg veins cause people severe discomfort and increase the risk of developing complications like blood clots or leg sores. You may wonder about the differences between spider veins vs. varicose veins and whether you should have more concern for one over the other. Let’s explore the similarities and differences between the two, along with potential treatment options.
What Are Spider Veins?
People tend to develop spider veins on their lower limbs, including the thighs and feet. Spider veins can also show up on a person’s face or torso. Most people don’t feel any discomfort from spider veins. However, some experience pain from spider veins if they stand in one place for too long.
What Do Spider Veins Look Like?
Spider veins tend to be red and progress to where they’re visible beneath your skin. They often look similar to spider webs. Unlike varicose veins, you can’t detect spider veins when you run your finger over them. That’s because they aren’t raised above the level of your skin. Spider veins are a mild form of varicose veins.
What Are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins represent a more severe form of spider veins. Individuals with varicose veins on their legs may experience pain or cramping as a result. Other symptoms typically associated with varicose veins include:
Many people turn to remedies like elevating their legs or wearing support stockings to deal with the discomfort. Pregnant women and those going through a menstrual cycle may find their symptoms get worse. Individuals with varicose veins may also experience:
- The formation of ulcers
- Vein inflammation
- Dark pigmentation, especially in the ankles
What Do Varicose Veins Look Like?
Unlike spider veins, varicose veins push out against the skin. They tend to have a bulging, twisted appearance. Varicose veins tend to be purple or dark blue and look like cords running up and down your legs.
What Causes Spider Veins and Varicose Veins?
Damaged or weakened valves often lead to the formation of spider veins and varicose veins. Your arteries carry blood from your heart other tissues. Veins take that blood back to the heart for recirculation. Because of that, your veins constantly work against the forces of gravity.
When the muscles in your legs contract, they act as pumps. Valves within your veins constantly open to allow blood flow to your heart, then close to keep the blood from coming back. Any damage to those valves allows blood to flow backward and start pooling in your veins. Your veins start twisting and stretching, leading to spider veins and varicose veins.
Other risk factors that play a role in your risk of developing spider veins and varicose veins include:
- Occupations requiring you to stand on your feet for long periods like nursing or hair styling
- Hormone changes
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for menopause
- A history of blood clots
- Conditions that cause pressure on the abdomen, like constipation and tumors
You can also develop spider veins and varicose veins if you:
- Apply topical steroids
- Suffer injury or trauma to your skin
- Have previously had venous surgery
- Ended up exposed to ultraviolet rays
How Can You Treat Spider and Varicose Veins?
Wearing medical-grade support hose is often a first step in dealing with varicose veins. Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes like more exercise or weight loss to improve the condition of varicose veins and spider veins.
If those remedies don’t work, there are options available to remove varicose veins and spider veins or reduce their appearance. Those who don’t have any discomfort from varicose veins may still want to reduce or remove leg veins for cosmetic reasons. Medicus Vein Care offers the following treatments for spider veins.
Sclerotherapy tends to be most effective on spider veins and smaller varicose veins. During the procedure, your doctor injects a solution, called a sclerosant, into the vein. That causes the vein to form scar tissue, forcing the blood to take a different path toward healthier veins. As a result, the injected vein collapses and fades away as it gets reabsorbed into the body.
It usually takes a few weeks for veins to fade after receiving sclerotherapy, though it can sometimes take longer. Some people require more treatments to reduce or eliminate the appearance of spider and varicose veins.
Potential side effects from receiving sclerotherapy include:
There are two types of laser therapy available for treating spider and varicose veins. You can treat smaller varicose veins and spider veins with a simple laser treatment applied to the skin’s surface. You attend multiple sessions every six to 12 weeks.
Endovenous laser treatment benefits patients dealing with more prominent veins. The surgeon passes a laser fiber through a catheter into your vein. The doctor follows the progress of the laser using an ultrasound. After placing the laser fiber, the doctor sends heat through it that runs along the length of the vein, causing the vein to close up and shrink over time.
VeinWave (Ohmic Thermolysis)
VeinWave helps remove the appearance of spider veins. Your doctor inserts a needle into your veins, through which they pass high-frequency microwave energy. That causes your blood vessels to heat up, then shrink. VeinWave causes no damage to the skin around the spider veins. While some people see instant results, others must wait a few weeks before their veins disappear entirely.
Take Care Of Your Varicose and Spider Vein Issues Today
You don’t have to continue dealing with unappealing spider veins on your legs. Medicus Vein Care can guide you through different treatment options with the potential for the best outcome based on your condition. Feel free to reach out and set up a consultation with us today by booking an appointment online.