What's the Difference Between Varicose and Spider Veins?

Varicose veins and spider veins are two results of a faulty circulatory system. These twisted, colored, and ropy bulges in the former, and more delicate, reddish, spiderweb-patterned blemishes in the latter, can result when blood doesn’t flow properly as it returns from the body’s tissues to the heart. Though the two may resemble each other in the broad strokes, they’re actually different conditions, and they’re treated in different ways.

The expert team of vein specialists, including double-board certified Dr. Mark Kim, at Eterna Vein & Medical Aesthetics in Puyallup, Washington, is well versed in the characteristics of each of these problems, as well as in their treatment. We believe an informed patient can more effectively participate in managing their health, so we’ve put together this guide so you can better understand the different characteristics, symptoms, and treatments of varicose veins and spider veins.

Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI)

The veins are the part of your circulatory system that return deoxygenated blood from the tissues back to the heart. That means the blood has to flow against the pull of gravity. To force the blood upward, veins contain one-way valves that close once the blood has passed through, preventing backflow.

If the valves are damaged, though, they won’t snap shut completely. Blood flow in the area becomes sluggish and pools around the valves. This condition is known as chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), and the increased blood pressure against the vein walls results in colored, visible swellings — varicose veins.

Any vein in the body can become varicose, but it’s most common in the legs and feet, especially in the calves, because walking, standing, and even your body’s weight puts pressure on the veins in the lower body.

If spider veins occur in the legs, they also arise from CVI. If they occur on the face, they most often are the result of broken blood vessels near the surface.

CVI may affect up to 40% of US adults. It’s more common in women, especially after pregnancy, and in people 50 and older.

Symptoms of varicose veins and spider veins

Spider veins are located close to the skin’s surface, and are most often small, thin, red lines that are flat or only slightly raised. While they can cause discomfort, most of the time they’re painless and are more of a cosmetic than a health issue.

Varicose veins are larger and deeper than spider veins and bulge significantly. Depending on their severity, they may cause:

Beyond their discomfort, varicose veins may also cause a number of serious health problems, including:

As a result, you should always seek medical attention for your varicose veins.

Treatments for varicose veins and spider veins

Here at Eterna Vein & Medical Aesthetics, we offer a number of different treatments to alleviate pain and improve the appearance of both varicose and spider veins.

Varicose vein treatments

Treatments include:

Spider vein treatments

Treatments include:

While facial veins may be spider veins, they could also be blood vessels inflamed due to rosacea, sun exposure, and other factors. We use Veinwave and laser sclerotherapy to treat these veins.

Visible veins on the hands aren’t necessarily dysfunctional; hand veins naturally become more obvious as you age. Asclera is an option for reducing their appearance, or you can try filling out the skin volume with injectable dermal fillers.

If you’re noticing colored veins snaking across your legs or face, it’s best to get them checked out to ensure they’re not harmful, and to have them treated if they are. Give Eterna Vein & Medical Aesthetics a call at 253-268-3400 to set up a consultation, or request an appointment online now.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Contour your body with CoolSculpting®

If you’ve dieted and exercised but still can’t seem to lose those last few stubborn pockets of fat, CoolSculpting® may be just the treatment to help you meet your aesthetic goals. Keep reading to learn the cold facts.

The Many Benefits of RF Microneedling

RF microneedling is an advanced form of microneedling that handles many of your common facial and skin concerns and turns the clock back years on your appearance. Keep reading to learn all about its many benefits.

Which Facial Treatment Is Right for You?

If your skin is in need of a refresher or “pick-me up”, there are many options available to replenish and reinvigorate it. Keep reading to learn more about what we can do for you.

Say Goodbye to Your Double Chin with Agnes RF

If you’ve tried dropping the pounds but are still bothered by stubborn fat under your chin, you may be a good candidate for the Agnes RF treatment system. Learn more about this revolutionary new procedure here.

Is a Chemical Peel Right for You?

Chemical peels are an aesthetic treatment that can help a number of skin woes. But are they right for you? Read on to learn more about the process and who’s a good candidate.