Many people present (arrive) to our clinic with spider veins, believing that they are in fact a manifestation of varicose veins. But they’re actually quite different.

Varicose veins are the dilated, bulging blood vessels that we frequently see in our skin, whereas spider veins are little tiny burst blood vessels, more like what we call capillaries, and these are frequently (but not always) related to just a cosmetic issue.

The Main Differences Between Spider Veins and Varicose Veins

Varicose Veins

  • Often duller red, blue, or flesh-colored, and may appear raised above the surface of the skin, like swollen, twisted cords.
  • Occur when the valves in the walls of the blood vessels are weakened or damaged and no longer able to regulate the flow of blood. As it collects, the affected veins enlarge and swell.
  • Often have noticeable symptoms, including itching or burning of the legs, aching or restlessness, swelling, pain and sometimes even ulcers near the ankle.
  • Untreated, may lead to more serious health issues.

Spider Veins

  • Often brighter red or blue and appear close to the surface of the skin, like tree branches or spiderwebs (hence their name).
  • Occur when small, surface blood vessels become permanently dilated.
  • Can be due to blood backup like varicose veins, but may be due to other factors like strenuous activity or injury, sun exposure, or hormonal imbalance.
  • May cause some itching, burning, or discomfort, but are typically less symptomatic than varicose veins.
  • Often, but not always, cosmetic in nature.

If you have any questions about these differences or any other issues relating to vein health, please call us at 512-726-0599.

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