Are Varicose Veins and Spider Veins the Same?

Text Size:  

Are the terms “spider veins” and “varicose veins” interchangeable? Is there a medical difference between them? Well, the answer is both yes and no.

The Similarities Between Varicose Veins and Spider Veins

First and foremost, varicose veins share the same essential underlying causes as spider veins, and the two conditions often appear together. Both conditions have defined the appearance of diseased veins that show through the skin with dark blue, purple, or red coloration. The underlying pathology behind these conditions are varied, but both occur when venous valves malfunction, making it impossible to pump blood upward toward the heart. This results in a pooling of blood within the veins, which causes both aesthetic and medical concerns.

As blood continues to pool, varicose veins and spider veins may exhibit a number of interrelated symptoms including

  • Pain, itching, throbbing, burning, or cramping or general tenderness
  • Swelling
  • Numbness
  • Leg fatigue and/or heaviness
  • Restless legs
  • Changes in skin color and texture

The Differences Between Varicose Veins and Spider Veins

The principle difference between varicose veins and spider veins lies in their relative size and overall appearance. In short, spider veins are far smaller and spindlier than varicose veins. Varicose veins are often huge, encouraged, rough, and ropy. Spider veins are typically quite fine but often spread out in large networks that resemble the spider webs for which they are named.

Varicose veins and spider veins also tend to differ in their placement. Varicose veins can form deep within muscles and other body tissues. They can also bulge outward from the surface of the skin. Spider veins, by contrast, are typically subcutaneous but rarely develop very far from the skin’s surface. Varicose veins and spider veins also require different vein procedures for effective treatment.

Varicose Vein Treatment Options

  • Endovenous Laser Treatment – A minimally invasive technique that closes varicose veins with laser heat introduced beneath the skin using ultrasound-guided catheters.
  • Ambulatory Phlebectomy – A minimally invasive technique that removes varicose veins through a series of tiny incisions.

Your Spider Vein Treatment Options

  • Transdermal Laser Treatment – Like Endovenous Laser Treatment, this technique closes spider veins with laser heat. However, Transdermal Laser Treatment, works through the skin and requires no incisions whatsoever.
  • Sclerotherapy – Rather than utilizing lasers, this technique employs a chemical solution called a sclerosant in order to close diseased veins. Ideal for small and spindly spider veins, Sclerotherapy practitioners use an extremely fine hypodermic needle to inject the sclerosant into the vein through the skin.

For More Information

If you still have questions about the difference between varicose veins and spider veins, contact the professionals at United Vein Centers. Trained professionals are on hand to discuss both your diagnosis and treatment options.