Spider Veins vs. Varicose Veins – What is the Difference?

Spider Veins vs. Varicose Veins – What is the Difference?

Though both can be treated surgically, the symptoms and presentation of spider veins and varicose veins are very different. Let’s take a look at some key features of each.

Spider Veins

Spider veins get their name from their web-like appearance. They may become discolored and, when tightly clustered, spider veins can sometimes look like a bruise. Spider veins are generally < 1mm in diameter. While these veins can be unsightly, they do not bulge, pose no health problems and are often treated cosmetically. Symptoms may include minor burning and itching at the vein site(s).  Sclerotherapy is a common, proven treatment where a small amount of solution is injected into the vein, causing it to fade and eventually dissipate over time.

Varicose Veins

Varicose veins occur when the valves within the vein are weakened and do not fully close. This results in bulging veins that are often blue and/or black in appearance.   Varicose veins commonly occur in the legs and ankles.  Symptoms – in addition to bulging and discoloration – may include leg cramps and/or aches, burning, throbbing, tingling and swelling.  In some cases, leg ulcers may develop. Varicose veins are generally > 3mm in diameter.   Sclerotherapy can sometimes be used to successfully treat small varicose veins.  Endovenous Thermal Ablation is a minimally invasive treatment option where a catheter is inserted into the diseased vein to seal it shut, thus re-routing blood to healthy veins.  The vein then shrinks and is absorbed by the body over time.  Another treatment option is a Phlebectomy, where the entire varicose vein is removed in sections.

The instances of both spider veins and varicose veins increases with age.  Many patients report being embarrassed by their appearance prior to treatment.  It is always exciting when a patient tells us that they are finally able to wear shorts, skirts and/or bathing suits without feeling awkward or uncomfortable.

Are you plagued by unsightly and/or painful veins?  Our highly qualified specialists provide comprehensive vein care and a variety of treatment options.  Summer is just around the corner, so make your appointment today.  Or, if you prefer, one of our board-certified specialists can conduct an online vein screening.


For more information, visit The Vein Center of North Florida

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