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What Is the Difference Between Spider and Varicose Veins?

What Is the Difference Between Spider and Varicose Veins?

More than 40% of women have varicose veins or spider veins, and unfortunately, that number tends to increase as we get older. While both conditions involve your circulation, there are some key differences between these ugly, problematic veins.

As a leading vein doctor in Warner Robins, Georgia, Allison Burkett, MD, FACS, has extensive experience treating both types of damaged veins in our patients at Middle Georgia Vascular Surgery Center & Vein Solutions. If you have varicose veins or spider veins — or both — here’s what you should know about their similarities and their differences.

Varicose veins vs. spider veins: what’s different

One of the most obvious differences between spider veins and varicose veins is the way they look. Varicose veins are much larger than spider veins, creating a twisted, bulging, ropelike appearance under the skin. By contrast, spider veins involve tiny veins just under the skin’s surface, creating the weblike appearance that gives these veins their memorable name.

Varicose veins and spider veins also tend to be associated with different symptoms. For instance, because they affect larger veins, varicose veins are more likely to cause uncomfortable symptoms, like:

Symptoms can range from mild to severe.

Spider veins often cause no symptoms other than their unattractive appearance. Sometimes, though, they can cause itching or burning, and they can also cause changes in the overlying skin, making it more fragile and more susceptible to damage and injury.

Varicose veins can appear anywhere, but they’re much more common in the legs and pelvic region, areas subjected to excess pressure from the weight of your body. They can also happen in deeper tissue where they can’t be seen by the naked eye. On the other hand, spider veins appear near the surface of the skin, and they can form anywhere — even on your face.

What’s the same

Although there are some key differences between varicose veins and spider veins, one thing they share is the need for prompt medical evaluation. Even if they’re not causing symptoms, both varicose veins and spider veins are signs of a circulation problem. Having them medically evaluated is important for determining the underlying cause.

Varicose veins form when tiny valves inside the veins stop working the way they’re supposed to. Instead of moving blood forward in one direction, blood winds up seeping backwards, causing veins to swell and bulge. 

Spider veins can also be a sign of valve damage, but often, they’re associated with issues like:

Both types of vein problems tend to be more common among people who spend a lot of time standing or a lot of time sitting.

Finally, both varicose veins and spider veins can be treated with noninvasive or minimally invasive treatments. Dr. Burkett is skilled in state-of-the-art therapies for both varicose veins and spider veins, relieving symptoms and helping you learn important ways to improve your vein health in the future.

Don’t ignore those ugly veins

Varicose veins and spider veins aren’t just a cosmetic problem. They’re also your body’s way of letting you know there’s a problem with your circulation. Having them medically evaluated by Dr. Burkett is the first step toward correcting the problem and improving your circulatory health.

To learn more about vein treatments and how they can help you, call us at 478-779-1920 or book an appointment online at Middle Georgia Vascular Surgery Center & Vein Solutions today.

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