Spider veins and varicose veins affect nearly 40 million Americans. You have about a 50% chance that one or the other or both pop will up on your skin. And when they do, you are going to have questions. Are spider veins and varicose veins the same thing? How do you tell the difference? Does one cause the other? Are they dangerous? Are they permanent? Will they go away? Are they be manageable? Are there treatments available? We know that you’ve got a lot of questions about spider veins vs varicose veins. Here’s great news- we’ve got answers!
Varicose Veins vs Spider Veins
Let’s start with the most common misconception made about varicose veins vs spider veins— the terms are interchangeable. Nope! Although they have some similarities, spider veins and varicose veins have enough differences that they are considered to be two different conditions. These two conditions fall under the umbrella, venous disease. It’s not uncommon for people to have both types of these venous diseases because the venous disease is progressive and is often caused by genetics.
The 3 Main Differences Between Varicose and Spider Veins
There are three categorical differences between spider veins and varicose veins:
- Where they show up
- The effects they have on the body
The most obvious difference between varicose and spider veins is how they look. Varicose veins are swollen, raised, large veins that may be blue or purple in color. Spider veins are smaller, about 1mm wide. They don’t protrude above the skin. They can be purple, red, blue, or all three.
Spider veins can appear on your legs and face. Varicose veins are usually only found in the legs, with hemorrhoids being an exception.
Effects on the Body
Spider veins are painless and cause no other serious problems. Varicose veins can be painful and can cause more severe problems.
The Main Similarity Between Spider Veins and Varicose Veins
Although they have their differences, spider veins and varicose veins have one significant similarity: cause.
Risk factors for both spider veins and varicose veins include:
- Standing or sitting in the same position for long periods
- Gender (women tend to get varicose and spider veins more often than men)
Spider Vein Quick-Facts
Here are some spider vein facts:
- Spider veins affect small veins in the skin that supply blood to the skin.
- They typically show up on the face or legs.
- Spider veins stay close to the skin.
- Spider veins appear either scattered all over the leg or in clusters.
- They usually are violet or red in color.
- Spider veins are not painful.
- Spider veins can worsen but are rarely more than a cosmetic concern.
- They are easily treated, but new spider veins can appear after treatment.
Varicose Veins Quick-Facts
Here are some varicose vein facts:
- Varicose veins affect larger veins that are deeper in the leg.
- The Saphenous vein is the most commonly affected.
- They are caused when blood is unable to return to the heart because of leaky or weak valves. The excess blood pools up and causes the vein to swell.
- Varicose veins can be painful and cause your legs to feel heavy.
- They can cause swelling, cramping, and aching.
- Varicose veins show up on the skin surface as twisted, swollen veins.
- They get worse with prolonged standing, sitting, or other pressure in the legs.
- Varicose veins can cause non-healing ulcers.
- They can lead to or be signs of more serious health conditions.
- Treatment may be necessary to prevent varicose veins from worsening.
Now let’s move on to another commonly asked question:
Do Spider Veins Become Varicose Veins?
It’s not an uncommon assumption that spider veins could be baby varicose veins. After all, they look like the mini-me of varicose veins, so you might think that they would grow up to be varicose veins. But the idea that spider veins become varicose veins is a myth. The fact is that spider veins do not become or cause varicose veins. Oddly enough, just the opposite is true.
Varicose Veins Can Cause Spider Veins
Spider veins don’t grow up to be varicose veins, but varicose veins can cause them. How? Varicose veins cause a pressure build-up in the legs. As the blood accumulates, the pressure builds, and excess blood gets pushed into the smaller veins surrounding the varicose vein. When that happens, spider veins flare-up in clusters on the skin.
Can I Get Rid of Them on My Own?
In both instances, the answer is no. The only exception is varicose veins or spider veins that appear as a result of pregnancy. These should disappear a few months after you give birth to your bundle of joy. But besides that, damaged veins are permanent.
There are plenty of steps you can take at home to prevent damaged veins from spreading further. You can check those suggestions out in our blog, “10 Natural Ways to Relieve and Reduce Varicose Veins“.
Even though you can’t get rid of them at home, there are plenty of non-invasive vein removal treatments available.
Treatments for Spider Veins & Varicose Veins
Treatments include ambulatory phlebectomy, sclerotherapy, laser light therapy, and endovascular laser therapy. All of these treatments are non-surgical and virtually pain-free. Depending on your situation, you may need to go in for more than one treatment session or even undergo different treatments for different types of veins, but the sessions are performed in-office, usually take under an hour, and there is little to no recovery time.
Have More Questions?
We’re here to answer them. Our team at Denver Vein Treatment Centers specializes in vein removal and treating venous disease. We’re up to date on the best treatment options and perform these treatments multiple times a day.
Look Better and Feel Better!
Are you concerned about your varicose veins? Or maybe just ready to get back to blemish-free skin? We are a one-stop-shop for vein treatments, making your procedures and recovery fast and safe. You’ll know exactly what to expect and how insurance may cover specific treatments. Call us for a consultation!