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Healthy Living Blog

Varicose Veins vs Spider Veins: What’s the Difference?


Image of varicose veins vs spider veins

It’s time to clear up the myths between varicose veins vs. spider veins. The first myth relates to the suggestion that varicose veins and spider veins are the same thing--they are not.

While both varicose veins and spider veins are unsightly, they are indeed two different types of vein issues.

Let’s breakdown the difference between varicose veins vs. spider veins to help you determine which one you’ve got and what you can do about them. 

What are spider veins?

Spider veins are the less serious issue of the two. They are small, purple and blue blood vessels that appear on the skin’s surface in a web-like shape, hence the name. They typically do not cause pain or discomfort. They are found primarily in the legs and on the face and are usually harmless. They can, however, indicate poor circulation and eventual formation of varicose veins.

What are varicose veins?

Varicose veins are similar to spider veins in that they are caused by a backup of blood. But they develop predominantly in the legs, stretch out beyond the skin’s surface and are thick and ropy in appearance. They indicate a more serious vein issue, when one-way valves do not work as they should. They can be painful, causing aching or cramping in the legs. They are linked to being a female, old age and obesity, and affect those who work in professions that require prolonged periods of either sitting or standing. It’s important not to do either for a long time without taking a break to reduce your risk of developing varicose veins.

How to Prevent Varicose Veins and Spider Veins

Fortunately, you can prevent spider veins and varicose veins from developing. Protect your skin by wearing sunscreen when you spend time in the sun. Limit your intake of salt, which can increase swelling. Exercise regularly to improve leg strength and blood circulation. Elevate your legs when you are sitting to improve blood flow. Don’t wear restrictive clothing, as this can hinder circulation.

Adopting these lifestyle changes can help you manage the appearance of your skin, which is the cosmetic issue, but also maintain your blood flow, which is the underlying (and all-important) issue at stake.

If you are experiencing a vein issue, make an appointment with one of our vein specialists to have them evaluated for proper treatment. Fisher-Titus is equipped to diagnose vein conditions at our Vein Treatment Center, part of the Snyder/White Heart & Vascular Center. Make an appointment with us today by calling 419-660-2999.