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Varicose Veins VS Spider Veins: Similarities and Differences

Nov 07, 2022 by Cheng SC Vein and Endovascular

Have you ever noticed obvious, swollen veins on your legs, or small, red and blue veins that resemble branches? They are most likely varicose or spider veins. These two conditions are frequently confused, but they are very different conditions that stem from similar underlying issues.

Varicose veins and spider veins are vein conditions that, depending on the condition, can be dangerous if left untreated. Vein conditions are caused by blood pooling in your veins, which can clump together and form a blood clot, causing damage to your veins. This can result in serious complications such as ulcers, bleeding, and a fatal condition known as deep vein thrombosis.

It is therefore important for us to know and understand the different types of vein conditions, such as the differences between varicose veins and spider veins, so that we can identify them and seek the appropriate treatment for ourselves.

What are Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins are twisted and enlarged blood vessels in the legs that are raised and swollen. They are usually due to built-up pressure caused by prolonged standing, sitting or walking. These veins are visible through the skin and can cause pain, an achy or heavy feeling, burning, throbbing, muscle cramping, swelling, or itching.

What are Spider Veins?

Spider veins are smaller, twisted vessels that can be blue, purple, red, or a combination of these colours. They typically appear as thin lines, webs, or branches that are visible through the skin on the legs, chest, or face. This condition isn’t painful or dangerous, but it can cause problems for people who care about their appearance.

Their Causes

  • Weak or damaged valves
  • Venous insufficiency
  • Genetics
  • Obesity
  • Birth control pills
  • Hormonal changes caused by pregnancy or menopause
  • Conditions such as tumours, constipation, history of blood clots, previous vein surgery, and/or trauma or injury to the skin
  • Exposure to ultraviolet rays
  • Standing for prolonged periods

The Main Differences Between Varicose and Spider Veins

Varicose veins and spider veins appear differently. As explained previously, varicose veins are swollen blood vessels measuring about 2mm that protrude from the skin, whereas spider veins are visible, small, superficial blood vessels of 1mm thickness that may not affect the texture of your skin. Furthermore, varicose veins can be extremely painful, whereas spider veins are usually painless.

Although many spider veins do not develop into serious medical conditions, there may be underlying varicose veins that require treatment. If left untreated, some spider veins can cause more serious problems in the long run. Hence, it is advisable to seek medical treatment if you notice spider veins on your body.

Treatment Options

There are numerous treatment options available for varicose and spider veins. To determine which treatment is best and most effective for you, consult a doctor and allow them to run tests to determine your exact condition.

A home remedy you can try to prevent varicose or spider veins is to relieve pressure from your feet by laying down with your feet raised. Getting off your feet allows the blood to flow away from them and prevent blood clots.

Other treatment options include

  • Compression Stockings or Socks
    Wearing compression stockings or socks puts pressure on your veins, which helps improve blood flow and prevents new varicose or spider veins from developing. It also reduces leg swelling and the risk of a blood clot.
  • Endovascular Vein Treatment
    Relieve symptoms or treat vascular diseases by conducting procedures in the veins through the use of catheters, which are long and thin flexible tubes.
  • Sclerotherapy
    An irritant is injected into the affected vein, causing it to constrict and gradually resorb. The vein will eventually disappear.
  • Ambulatory Phlebectomy
    This treatment method is used when veins are too large for sclerotherapy. Tiny punctures are made in the skin to remove leg veins.

Venous conditions can have a negative impact on one’s quality of life and can even lead to life threatening conditions. Therefore, it is crucial to seek medical attention and treatment as soon as you notice symptoms of venous diseases.

Cheng SC Vein and Endovascular Clinic is led by Dr Cheng Shin Chuen, which includes a team of dedicated and highly qualified nurses and staff. Book a medical appointment with us today.

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