The terms “spider veins” and “varicose veins” are often used interchangeably, but they’re actually two very different conditions. Not only do they have different appearances, but the treatments also vary, and knowing the difference makes deciding on a treatment option much easier.
Spider veins are small vessels that are red, purple or blue. They’re very visible through the skin because they’re so close to the surface. They’re most commonly seen on the legs, chest and face, but they can appear anywhere on the body. Spider veins are typically a result of poor circulation or a side effect of varicose veins forming. This is where they’re often confused with varicose veins, especially because spider and varicose veins form on the same leg.
Spider veins are harmless; there isn’t any risk of negative health consequences because of it. A small percentage of patients experience aching or burning at the site, but this isn’t common. Treatment options may include sclerotherapy, where the veins are injected with a solution to permanently close the veins. The veins disappear after a few weeks as the blood starts to reroute normally to healthy veins. Sometimes you’ll have to go through the treatment a couple of times before you see results, but once the veins close, they’re gone for good.
Varicose veins are far more visible than spider veins. They’re large and raised in nature, appearing puffy and swollen. They’re found most commonly in the legs, but they have the potential to show up anywhere on the body. Varicose veins are caused by a number of things:
- Jobs that require a lot of standing
- Hormonal birth control and postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy
- Hormonal changes during pregnancy, puberty or menopause
- History of blood clots
There are other symptoms associated with varicose veins besides their visible appearance. A large number of patients say they experience aching or cramping in their legs. Some women even say they feel tired and restless. There are even patients who have burning, throbbing or tingling in the legs, as well as feeling like their legs are heavy.
Non-invasive treatment options include compression stockings and making lifestyle changes, such as weight loss, exercise and maintaining good skin hygiene. Sclerotherapy, Venefit™ and VenaSeal™ can also be used to treat these veins.
Spider veins are sometimes a result of varicose veins, but they are completely different conditions. Spider veins are more of a cosmetic problem while varicose veins cause discomfort on top of cosmetic dissatisfaction. Luckily, both are treatable, so consult with Dr. Mimi Lee at her office in Little Rock if you’re interested in a treatment option. Contact us today to schedule your appointment to learn more.