What’s the Difference Between Spider Veins and Varicose Veins?

What’s the Difference Between Spider Veins and Varicose Veins?

Have you noticed veins in your legs that are discolored or raised and painful? You may be dealing with spider or varicose veins, but which is it?

Varicose and spider veins are similar vascular problems affecting men and women, but telling them apart isn't always easy.

If you're living with one of these vein disorders, you don't have to suffer for long. Dr. Mark Elliott and Dr. Lee Thornton offer several vein procedures at Meridian Plastic Surgery in Meridian, Mississippi.

Dr. Elliott and Dr. Thornton are both board-certified plastic surgeons who evaluate your veins to determine which treatment is best for your needs.

What are spider veins?

Spider veins are small clusters of damaged veins in the legs and face. They get their name because they often look like a web or tree branch under the skin.

Valve problems in the veins cause spider veins to form. Normal veins push deoxygenated blood back to the heart through valves.

However, when valves become damaged, it causes the blood to leak back into the veins behind the damaged valve. It causes the vein to become more prominent over time, causing spider veins to appear.

Spider veins are often red and appear on the legs or face. They can also be blue or purple, affecting smaller vessels like arterioles and capillaries.

The facts on varicose veins

Varicose veins are also the result of damaged valves in the veins throughout the body. However, they're larger and more noticeable than spider veins.

Most people have varicose veins on the legs, including the thighs, ankles, and back of the knees. During pregnancy, women may also have these veins on the buttocks and lower pelvis.

Varicose veins look like bands of ropes under the skin and often bulge out. You can notice varicose veins easily, appearing skin-colored, red, or blue.

Many people also have symptoms related to varicose veins, including itching around the vein, pain, and swelling around the area.

How do the two differ?

Spider veins are inherently similar to varicose veins; however, they also differ significantly. The most noticeable difference is that varicose veins are much larger and more noticeable than spider veins.

Varicose veins also cause symptoms, whereas spider veins usually don't. People with varicose veins may sometimes experience pain or heaviness in the legs, unusual swelling, and venous ulcers.

The type of blood vessel involved also differs in varicose and spider veins. Varicose veins affect larger veins in the legs. In contrast, spider veins mainly affect tiny vessels like capillaries in the legs or face.

Treatment for varicose veins and spider veins is also different. Dr. Elliott and Dr. Thornton evaluate your symptoms and determine which type of therapy is best for you.

We treat unsightly spider veins with laser light therapy and sclerotherapy. Sclerotherapy collapses the spider vein after injecting medication into the affected vein, with optimal results in six weeks.

Laser light therapy utilizes a specialty laser, which creates clots in the affected vessels, closing off the vein and blocking blood flow. Your body eventually absorbs the spider vein, resulting in clear skin.

For varicose veins, Dr. Thornton and Dr. Elliott use laser therapy with the CoolTouch CTEV laser. The laser closes the blood supply to the vein, causing it to shrink over time with much fewer side effects than vein surgery.

If you need treatment for spider or varicose veins, don't hesitate to call Meridian Plastic Surgery today at 601-693-7742 or request a consultation on the website.

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