Are Varicose Veins and Spider Veins the Same?

Vein Disorders

Both spider veins and varicose veins are classified as venous diseases, which are caused by a weakening in the walls of the blood vessels. While they are similar in that both can result in unpleasant changes in appearance on your legs and feet, they are very different in the effects they can have on your health. Whereas spider veins result in mostly cosmetic changes, varicose veins can cause pain, swelling, and may put your health at risk. At Advanced Vein Therapy, we offer treatment options for both conditions, which can improve your appearance and protect your health.

The Difference Between Varicose Veins and Spider Veins

Dark blue, red, or even purple lines spreading across your legs and feet are likely either spider veins or varicose veins. Both can make you feel self-conscious about your physical appearance, preventing you from wearing shorts, sandals, swimsuits, or other revealing apparel. However, we advise that while spider veins are mainly a cosmetic concern, varicose veins could indicate a more serious underlying medical condition.

The following are important facts to be aware of:

Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are the large and twisted blue veins that may bulge from the surface of your skin.  They can cause you pain and discomfort and may disturb your sleep by causing tingling or aching in the legs and feet.

Varicose veins are attributed to damaged or leaking valves within the veins themselves. These faulty valves cause blood to pool within the vein and restricts it from reaching the heart or other areas in the body where it is needed and poses a risk for several serious health conditions, including blood clots, skin ulcers, and deep vein thrombosis (DVT). In addition to underlying health conditions, risk factors that increase the likelihood of varicose veins include:

  • Hereditary factors;
  • Going through changes in hormone levels, such as pregnancy or aging;
  • Having a job that requires you to either spend long hours on your feet or to sit behind a desk for extended periods;
  • Living a sedentary lifestyle and experiencing problems with weight gain and obesity.

Spider Veins

Unlike varicose veins, spider veins appear as smaller lines that web and branch just beneath the skin’s surface. While they can also result from venous insufficiency, they are generally not dangerous. Similar to varicose veins, family history, pregnancy, standing or sitting for long periods, and weight gain make spider veins more likely to occur. While they do not turn into varicose veins and will not jeopardize your health, spider veins are worth treating to prevent them from impacting your appearance and your self-esteem.

Boise Venous Disease Treatment

At Advanced Vein Therapy, the venous disease treatment we will suggest will vary depending on the type and severity of the vein issues you are experiencing. Options include:

  • Self-care, such as elevating your feet throughout the day, and getting massages to stimulate blood flow;
  • Lifestyle changes, which may involve losing weight or incorporating more exercise into your routine;
  • Medical devices, such as compression stockings;
  • Medical procedures, performed in our office by our highly skilled and board-certified radiologists, designed to safely and effectively eliminate varicose and spider veins with minimal downtime.

For treatment of spider veins, sclerotherapy is a safe, highly effective, yet minimally invasive procedure. It involves injecting the vein with a sterile medication, causing it to shrink, and rerouting blood to other areas. This reduces the appearance of the spider vein, resulting in younger, healthier looking skin.  

Vascular Disease InfographicFor patients with varicose veins, we use sclerotherapy as well as other treatments, depending on the degree of venous insufficiency and any underlying factors. These include:

  • Venaseal, our newest technology, where small amounts of medical glue are used to close and seal the vein. Perfect for customers who are looking for little to no downtime!
  • Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) a treatment which uses bursts of energy to cause the vein to collapse and heal.  
  • Ambulatory Phlebectomy, a procedure where small incisions are used to clamp and remove the vein.
  • Endovenous Laser Therapy (ELT), a treatment where light energy is used to close the vein and reroute blood deeper into the tissues.

Schedule a Consultation with Our Boise Vein Specialists Today

To discuss your venous issues and the potential treatment options available, reach out and contact our spider and varicose vein specialists at Advanced Vein Therapy today. We will be happy to arrange an initial consultation where we can answer your questions about how we can help improve both your physical appearance and your overall health.