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What Is the Difference Between Spider Veins and Varicose Veins?

There are around 60,000 miles of veins in the adult human body. Collectively, these veins play a critical role in your body’s function and health. However, these veins sometimes turn into spider veins or varicose veins when damaged.

Spider Veins

Spider veins are named as such due to their web-like appearance. Sometimes, they’re called thread veins, alluding to their thin and delicate appearance. For medical professionals and scientists, spider veins are called telangiectasias.

What Are Spider Veins?

Spider veins are dilated, widened, or broken blood vessels near your skin’s surface.

How Do Spider Veins Form?

Your veins work hard to carry blood to your heart. Veins get your blood flowing forward rather than backward because they have one-way valves built in that close when blood has passed through.

When these valves in the veins weaken or become damaged, the blood flow becomes dysfunctional. Blood can start pooling within the vein, which causes the vein to branch out. The result is spider veins.

When spider veins happen in your facial skin, they result from burst blood vessels. The cause is usually either sun damage or increased pressure from an outside source.

Are Spider Veins Dangerous?

More often than not, spider veins are entirely harmless. Some individuals are simply genetically predisposed to getting them.

Although they’re harmless, some people can find spider veins bothersome. Luckily, there are treatments to address spider veins, which are outlined below.

Varicose Veins

While spider veins snake delicately across the skin, varicose veins are raised and swollen, causing them to stick out from your skin.

What Are Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins come from similar issues as spider veins: malfunctioning valves. These veins are twisted blood vessels that lie beneath your skin.

Are Varicose Veins Dangerous?

While varicose veins are usually not dangerous, they can be quite painful.

Some individuals who live with varicose veins often deal with any or all of the following symptoms:

  • Swollen legs and/or ankles
  • Leg muscle cramps
  • Leg muscle fatigue
  • Itching sensations
  • Throbbing
  • Burning

These symptoms can reduce the general quality of life of the person dealing with them.

Spider Veins vs. Varicose Veins

Spider veins and varicose veins stem from the same problem, but they are different in nature.


  • Spider veins are superficial, while varicose veins are under the skin
  • Spider veins are smaller, while varicose veins are larger and swollen
  • Spider veins are often painless, while varicose veins are often painful


Both spider and varicose veins are caused by broken blood vessels. Both are also worsened by the following:

  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Menopause
  • Genetic predispositions

If you live with either spider veins or varicose veins, there’s a high likelihood that your provider will recommend that you maintain a healthy weight to prevent the problem from getting worse.

Do These Veins Ever Go Away?

Another quality that spider veins and varicose veins share is their stubbornness. Spider veins rarely go away on their own, and varicose veins simply don’t go away without treatment.

Luckily, there is treatment.

Treatment Options for Spider Veins and Varicose Veins

Here are some of the treatment options for unwanted spider veins and varicose veins.

Vein Closure

Vein closure is a minimally invasive treatment that’s exactly what it sounds like: the closure of your veins.

With vein closure treatment, a small, medical-grade catheter is used to heat up the end of the diseased vein or veins. This causes the vein to shrink, which not only closes the vessel but also reroutes the flow of blood into healthier veins.


Microphlebectomy is a procedure where large varicose veins are removed from the body via a small incision. Microphlebectomy is an option for patients who aren’t candidates for sclerotherapy.


This is a treatment option for patients with both spider veins and varicose veins that are smaller.

With sclerotherapy, a special solution is injected into the vein that requires treatment. This collapses the vein, which the body then reabsorbs into itself, causing the appearance of the vein to be eliminated.

Getting Treatment for Spider Veins or Varicose Veins

To learn more about getting treatment for your spider veins or varicose veins, contact Metropolitan Vein and Aesthetic Center today.

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