What is the Difference Between Spider and Varicose Veins?

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While spider veins and varicose veins are often associated with one another, there are a few fundamental differences between these two types of veins that are important to keep in mind, especially if you are considering undergoing a vein removal treatment. These differences can be divided into three main categories: appearance, causes, and treatment.


Spider veins, also known as telangiectasias, are small blood vessels that are red, blue, or purple in color. They are named for their shape that resembles a spider web. These vessels most commonly appear on the legs and face. While varicose veins also are red, blue, or purple in color, they are usually significantly thicker and longer than spider veins and are more raised in appearance. Varicose veins develop most commonly on the legs.


Another key difference between spider veins and varicose veins is what causes them to develop. Spider veins are most often the result of genetics, sun exposure, trauma to the skin, hormone fluctuations, and certain types of medication.

While varicose veins can also be caused by genetics, they are often the result of an underlying vein disorder called venous insufficiency. Venous insufficiency occurs when the valves of the veins become damaged or worn, making it more difficult for the body to pump blood through them safely and efficiently. Because varicose veins are the result of a more serious structural problem with the veins, they can cause severe pain, numbness, and fatigue in the legs if left untreated.


When it comes to addressing both spider veins and varicose veins, there are a number of effective treatments available that can eliminate problem veins and relieve the adverse side effects they cause. Sclerotherapy is a simple injectable treatment that is most commonly used to get rid of spider veins but can also target varicose veins if used in conjunction with ultrasound technology. Endovenous laser therapy uses laser energy delivered through a small catheter to close varicose veins. A minimally-invasive ultrasound-guided ambulatory phlebectomy can be undergone to removal larger, deeper varicose veins that can’t be targeted with other treatments.

Are you interested in having one of your spider or varicose veins examined or removed by a skilled professional? Advanced Vein Center can help! Our practice is proud to provide patients in all areas of Maine with high-quality medical vein treatments. If you’d like more information about our practice or are interested in scheduling a consultation appointment, contact us today!