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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Spider Veins vs. Varicose Veins - What's the Difference?

Spider veins and varicose veins have similarities, but they look different and have a different diagnosis. Learn more about their differences and similarities below, including how to treat them.

Spider Veins vs. Varicose Veins - What are they?


The main difference between spider veins and varicose veins is their appearance.

Spider veins are small, thin blood vessels visible underneath the skin on the legs or face. Though typically harmless, spider veins can be caused by poor circulation and lead to varicose vein formation.
Varicose veins are enlarged, “ropey” veins which protrude beneath the skin. They often develop on the legs and feet when valves in the veins aren’t working properly.

What Causes Spider Veins and Varicose Veins?

Spider veins and varicose veins are often caused by increased pressure on the lower body due to standing or walking.

Other risk factors can include:

Age – As you get older, veins often lose elasticity. Valves in your veins may weaken allowing blood to flow backward instead of moving to your heart. As the blood pools, your veins can enlarge and often appear large and blue because they contain deoxygenated blood being re-circulated through the lungs.
Pregnancy – Pregnant women often develop spider veins or varicose veins due to increases in blood volume and decreases in blood flow from the legs to the pelvis. This supports a growing baby, but can cause enlarged veins in the legs. Symptoms often worsen late in a pregnancy, but most women are symptom-free three to 12 months following delivery.
Genetics – If you have a family history of spider veins or varicose veins, there’s a high chance you may get them too.
Obesity – Extra weight puts pressure on the veins causing blood to pool.
Sitting or Standing – When sitting or standing for long periods of time, blood flow in the legs decreases. 

What Are the Symptoms?


Often, spider veins or varicose veins have no symptoms other than an undesirable cosmetic appearance. Symptoms may include:

• Blue or dark purple veins
• Twisted, bulging veins
• Achy or heavy feeling in your legs
• Pain after sitting or standing for long periods of time
• Muscle cramping, throbbing, or burning in your lower legs
• Itching around your veins
• Inflammation of the skin near your ankle, color changes, and hardened veins that could be symptomatic of vascular disease, which requires medical attention

How Are Spider Veins and Varicose Veins Treated?

A health care professional can examine the affected area to diagnose spider veins or varicose veins. Most cases don’t require treatment except for complications or cosmetic reasons.

Symptoms can be alleviated by lifestyle changes including regular exercise, weight loss, and avoiding sitting or standing for extended periods. Elevating the legs while sitting or sleeping can also improve circulation and decrease leg swelling.

If spider veins or varicose veins are painful or irritating, innovative vein treatment can eliminate them for good. At Coastal Vein Aesthetic Institute, we help patients get relief from spider veins and varicose veins through non-invasive vein treatments. Contact us to learn more about our vein services.

This is a guest blog post.

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