What is the difference between Spider Veins and Varicose Veins?

Are you looking at your legs right now and asking yourself: do I have varicose veins or are they spider veins?

To understand the difference between varicose veins and spider veins in the lower leg and thigh region, we must look at what the purpose of veins is in first place:

  • Veins are integral to the circulatory system of the body, as the heart pumps oxygenated blood through the arteries and receives deoxygenated blood (blood with no oxygen and more carbon dioxide) through the veins. In the lower limbs (thighs, legs and feet) the same arterial and venous system exist supplying oxygen through arteries and taking away waste products through veins.
  • The largest superficial vein in the lower limb is the great saphenous vein and it starts in the feet and goes all the way to the groin. When the valves in these veins are damaged due to hereditary or hormonal causes, excessive stretching or even injury, they stop doing their job of pushing blood to the deep veins. Other veins take over the job, leaving this diseased superficial segment within the lower limb to continue to stretch and cause a build up of pressure in smaller veins coming out of it. These smaller veins or tributaries are what gives rise to those bulging varicose veins seen on the skin.
  • From these larger veins, smaller micro veins can form called spider veins. It is important to note that spider veins can develop in the absence of diseased larger superficial veins within the lower limb.

What are spider veins, really?

Spider veins also known as telangiectasias are small, twisted blood vessels that are visible through the skin. They may be red, purple or blue and most appear on the thighs, lower legs or face. Due to this twisting and bent appearance, they appear like a spider with a central region and multiple legs.

They do not cause any major structural problems or complications but patients often feel self-conscious due to their unsightly nature and often very prominent pattern.

What are varicose veins, really?

Varicose veins are large tortuous and abnormal blood vessels that are often seen bulging out of the skin. They can develop anywhere in the body, but usually sprout on the legs and ankles

They often appear on the lower limbs and become more prominent when standing and less so when lying down or lifting the legs up. They tend to cause many symptoms and complications, such as heaviness, aching, cramping, swelling, itchiness and ulcer formation as they progress.

In summary

Spider veins and varicose veins are venous disorders often seen in the lower leg and thigh region of individuals. Both types represent abnormal and diseased veins that are not functioning. This essentially means that they serve no purpose except to worsen symptoms already present and give rise to complications like scarring, discoloration and ulcer (wound) formation.

These conditions are more common in women but men do suffer from them as well. Men tend to seek treatment only when the disease has progressed and complications have set in. Doctor Vein can treat and eliminate both spider veins and varicose veins with ease and efficiency. Why not make an appointment today and find out how you can be relieved from this often painful condition.

If you have any further questions about the difference between varicose and spider veins, do not hesitate to contact us

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