What Are the Differences?

Although many people lump spider veins and varicose veins into the same condition, they are separate medical issues that affect your health differently.  Both conditions can result in the unsightly appearance of visible abnormal veins on the surface of the skin. Varicose veins and spider veins also share similar causes, including heredity, pregnancy, prolonged standing, and aging, and although both are very easily treated in the office, that is where the similarities end.

Following is an overview of the differences between the two to help you determine which condition you might have. However, scheduling a free vein screening with Dr. Cutchen is the first step in identifying proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Varicose Veins and Spider Veins: Differences

Spider veins are usually 1mm or less in size and branch out like a “web.”  Although primarily cosmetic in nature, you may experience symptoms with spider veins, such as itching, burning, or stinging around the affected area.  On occasion, large clusters of spider veins, especially around the ankles, can be a symptom of a deeper venous issue.

Varicose veins are typically larger in size and will be 3mm wide or more, often appearing as large, dilated bulging veins beneath the skin. Symptoms often include heaviness, aching, tiredness, and swelling.  Unlike spider veins, varicose veins are a medical problem and will get worse and possibly lead to greater issues if left untreated.

Treatment Options for Varicose Veins and Spider Veins

Treatment for both varicose and spider veins is performed in the comfort and convenience of our office and involves minimal discomfort or downtime.  Several factors determine the need for treatment, such as physical symptoms, the severity of the condition, and your cosmetic desires.

Spider veins are considered cosmetic and are never covered by insurance.  Sclerotherapy, a medical treatment that involves injecting a sclerosing agent directly into the affected veins, is the gold standard in their treatment, and usually requires anywhere from 3-6 treatments spaced about six weeks apart. Facial spider veins are best eliminated with VeinWave™ treatment.

Varicose veins are more serious in nature and when symptomatic (heaviness, aching, etc) are considered a medical issue and treatment is often covered by insurance. Along with symptoms of discomfort, untreated vein disease may lead to the development of skin discoloration and even skin ulcers.  Patients with large prominent bulging varicose veins are at increased risk of forming blood clots in these veins.  Varicose veins are treated by 3 different methods depending on their location, size and if they are bulging.  The underlying source varicose vein is treated with endovenous laser ablation, in essence, “closing” the diseased vein that is causing the branch varicose veins.  Endovenous chemical ablation is used to close symptomatic varicose veins that are not bulging and are seen only by ultrasound.  Bulging veins are removed through small (1/8”) incisions in a process known as ambulatory phlebectomy.

If you would like to learn more about Spider Vein or Varicose Vein treatment, please call our office at 505-848-8346 today to schedule a consultation or fill out the form on this page and one of our trusted staff members will reach out to you promptly.