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Are varicose veins the same as spider veins?

November 5, 2018 • • Spider VeinsVaricose Veins

Spider veins and varicose veins are more common than many patients realize.  Although most people have heard the names of these vessels, the belief that they are the same disorder is a widespread misconception.  Understanding more about their similarities and differences is important when considering Las Vegas vein treatment alternatives.


SUNY Upstate Medical University reports that one thing varicose and spider veins have in common is their cause.  The culprit is dysfunctional valves in veins.  These valves help propel blood upward from the extremities toward the heart instead of naturally falling backward in response to gravity.

A number of factors can cause valves to lose their ability to close properly.  Once a failure occurs, blood falls down behind the valve.  Eventually, pooled blood stretches the walls of the vein, resulting in a spider or a varicose vein.  The most common reasons include:

  • •Growing older
  • •Family history
  • •Injury to a leg
  • •Extended periods standing or sitting

More women than men experience these problem veins.  While both types of vessels cause cosmetic issues, one difference is the additional medical problems that sometimes occur with varicose vessels.  Among them are leg cramps, throbbing, ulcers, and rashes. 

Spider veins are typically blue or red and form a pattern similar to a spider’s web.  Most occur on the face or the legs instead of on the thighs, calves, or inside of a leg near the feet or ankle, according to the Office on Women’s Health.  They are usually much smaller than varicose vessels, which are most often blue or purple.  A varicose vein typically has a bulging, rope-like appearance in contrast with a flatter spider vein, which develops closer to the skin’s surface.

Las Vegas Vein Treatment Options

Patients with a varicose or spider vein problem have a number of convenient treatment options.  Management of these troublesome vessels often starts with conservative measures such as wearing compression stockings, losing extra pounds, steering clear of extended intervals standing or sitting, and avoiding tight clothing.

In most cases, additional therapies are outpatient procedures performed at a vein clinic or other same-day facility by a vein specialist to eliminate problem vessels.  These days, most treatment options are minimally invasive, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

The mainstay of spider vein procedures is sclerotherapy.  During this procedure, the physician injects a chemical that corrodes each targeted vein, causing it to resorb into the body.  Transdermal laser therapy is an additional option and is particularly useful for eradicating the smallest vessels.  It is also possible to use this laser vein treatment with sclerotherapy.

Vein specialists offer these varicose vein therapies:

  • •VenaSeal™
  • •ClosureFast™
  • •Endovenous laser therapy (EVLT)
  • •Phlebectomy

It is important to note that no treatment will prevent the development of new veins.  As a result, patients sometimes choose to undergo additional treatments periodically.

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