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Varicose Veins vs. Spider Veins: What’s the difference?

What is the difference between varicose veins and spider veins?

That is a question that our vein specialists at VeinSolutions hear quite often from patients.

Both varicose veins and spider veins are common results of venous insufficiency, something that approximately 150,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with each year. Venous insufficiency occurs when the lower extremities (legs) have trouble pumping and circulating blood through veins back up to the heart.

These two conditions are similar and often confused, but they have some key differences as well.

“The most obvious difference between varicose and spider veins is their physical appearance,” says board-certified vascular surgeon Dr. David Nation. “The good news, though, is that whatever form is troubling you, they are both highly treatable from a therapeutic and also cosmetic standpoint by a board-certified vascular surgeon.”

Varicose veins are larger, bulging structures that sit right under the skin’s surface, whereas spider veins are very thin, wispy, weblike, and typically flat.

Another key difference between the two is the symptoms associated with each.

What are the different symptoms of varicose veins and spider veins?

Varicose veins are frequently accompanied by several painful symptoms occurring in the legs such as swelling or tenderness, itching/burning, cramps, or a feeling of fatigue and heaviness.

Spider veins on the other hand, are typically painless with only their outward appearance causing aesthetic discomfort and concern.

Varicose veins and spider veins may also be treated differently.

What are some effective treatment options for varicose veins and spider veins?

Varicose veins respond well to a treatment called endovenous ablation where gentle heat is used to break down the veins. Sometimes more than one session is necessary in stubborn cases.

Another effective option is minimally-invasive vein surgery which removes the damaged veins altogether, leaving you with smoother, sleeker legs and no more painful symptoms!

Spider veins are often easier to eliminate.  One common therapy that we administer with great success is sclerotherapy, which uses a series of saline injections to break down the veins. Smaller varicose veins may also respond well to sclerotherapy.

All of these procedures are performed conveniently in our vein treatment centers on an outpatient basis, and patients are typically able to resume normal activities within 24 hours.

If you are experiencing symptoms of either varicose or spider veins, or are unhappy with the way they make your legs look and feel, it may be time to see a doctor and visit with our team of board-certified vascular surgeons.

Please contact us here for a consultation with one of our specialists to help you feel, and look your best, or call 512.452.VEIN (8346) in Austin, or 512.501.4287 for Georgetown.

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