The warmer months often bring about the desire to wear shorts and skirts, but you may think differently if you’re part of the 50 percent of Americans who suffer from unwanted and unsightly veins. While it may be refreshing to know you don’t suffer alone, these visible veins may create serious body-image issues that cause you to lose self-confidence.
It’s estimated that more than 25 million adults in the U.S. alone will develop varicose veins throughout their lifetime. But what exactly are varicose veins, and are they different than spider veins? While these terms are often used interchangeably and they do share some similarities, overall they are quite different. We’ve compiled a list of the most notable differences between spider veins and varicose veins, including:
Size and appearance
If you suffer from varicose veins, you know that their appearance is cord-like and often protrudes from the skin. These veins are larger than spider veins, and are typically 4 or more millimeters in diameter. Spider veins are more delicate looking and get their name by looking like a spider web with small, short intertwined lines. They are generally on the smaller side, measuring at about 1 millimeter or less in diameter.
Depth and location
Typically varicose veins are located beneath the deeper layers of the skin and can be green, blue or red depending on the size. Those who suffer from varicose veins know they like to show up in the lower extremities, including the thighs, legs and feet. Spider veins, on the other hand are more superficial in nature, and therefore tend to be more visible. These type of veins are often found in the same areas, but can also occur on the face, neck, chest and back.
Unfortunately, varicose veins can be quite painful. If left untreated, they may cause heaviness, aching, swelling, throbbing, itching, fatigue, cramps and restlessness. Other than being aesthetically unappealing, spider veins generally don’t cause any negative symptoms other than the occasional itching, burning or stinging.
The most common secondary conditions from varicose veins include pain and swelling, but you may also develop ulcers if left untreated. They are also prone to bleeding if you bump into something too hard. Bleeding varicose veins should not be taken lightly as they can lead to blood clots that can travel upwards to the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism. Spider veins are more of a cosmetic concern than anything else, but just like varicose veins, they are prone to bleeding if you scrub them too harshly or bump into something hard. Bleeding spider veins often result in a bruise, but may occasionally bleed through the skin.
When the pain and physical appearance of veins becomes too much, there are several effective treatment options. Sclerotherapy is a minimally-invasive procedure that can remove both varicose veins and spider veins by injecting a medication into the unwanted vein. For those dealing with spider veins in the face, neck, chest or back, a laser treatment may be the most beneficial. At Windward Vein, Heart and Medispa, we offer laser and radiofrequency ablation, sclerotherapy, ClariVein, VenaSeal and phlebectomy treatments.
Regardless of the treatment you choose, Dr. Wong and his trained medical staff make it their goal to rid you from unsightly veins and boost your overall appearance. To learn more about what each procedure entails or to set up an individualized consultation, please give us a call at 808-261-2441.