Spider Veins Versus Varicose Veins: Know the Difference

If you take a good look at your legs, chances are you may find tiny red, blue or purple veins in a delicate web across your thighs, calves and and the backs of your knees. These thin little veins are known as spider veins, and although they are frequently confused with varicose veins, they are completely different. Understanding the differences between spider veins and varicose veins can help you know when to seek treatment for your veins from Advanced Radiology.

Spider Veins Versus Varicose Veins

Size. While spider veins have some similarities to varicose veins, they are different in several ways. Spider veins are less than 1 millimeter wide, while varicose veins are 3 millimeters or wider.

Appearance. Spider veins are usually light blue, red or purple and typically do not dramatically bulge out under the skin. Varicose veins are often dark blue or purple, swell and bulge greatly, and have a gnarled appearance. 

Pain. Spider veins are often painless for most people, while people with varicose veins report feeling pain, a feeling of tiredness and heaviness in the legs, throbbing, cramping at night, and restless legs. People who suffer from varicose veins also often experience dry skin, skin ulcers, and wounds on the legs and feet that do not heal.  

Seriousness. In most cases, spider veins are seen as a bothersome cosmetic concern, while varicose veins can be a sign of an underlying health condition, like blood clots. Spider veins can develop into varicose veins, so if they change in size or become uncomfortable, schedule an appointment for a checkup.  

Treatment. The progression of spider veins and varicose veins can be slowed by wearing compression socks, exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet. Regular leg elevation can also help slow the progression of either condition.

Treatments for spider veins include laser therapy or sclerotherapy, a procedure in which a chemical is injected into the vein, causing it to collapse. Once the vein collapses, the body reroutes blood flow to other healthy veins, and the body absorbs the old vein. Advanced Radiology also offers thermocoagulation for the treatment of spider veins. Thermocoagulation uses heat energy transmitted through a probe into the vein to cause it to collapse. Like sclerotherapy, once the vein collapses, it absorbs into the body.

Varicose veins can also be treated using sclerotherapy. Other treatments for varicose veins include microphlebectomy, a procedure that surgically removes varicose veins using tiny incisions.

Are you looking for treatment for your spider veins or varicose veins? Call Advanced Radiology today at 855-201-1519 to schedule a consultation.