Varicose Veins vs. Spider Veins

The veins in our bodies are essential for carrying blood to our hearts. Without them, our blood would be unable to transport cellular waste and carbon dioxide to be released. Although veins have an important function in our biology, abnormalities such as varicose veins and spider veins can be unattractive and embarrassing before vein removal treatment is performed. Vein problems are quite common, affecting 40 to 55 percent of Americans.

A close up on skin with spider veins

Two legs with varicose veins on white background

Varicose and spider veins are terms that are often used interchangeably, but they actually have several distinguishing features that set them apart, as seen in the following chart:

Table comparing the color, size, shape, depth, and medical issue of varicose and spider veins


Varicose Veins

Computer-generated images comparing normal veins with normal blood flow and varicose veins with abnormal blood flow and a deformed valve, dilated vein, ulcer, and ankle swelling

Veins have small valves attached to the vessel wall. These valves keep the blood flowing in one direction back towards the heart. Varicose veins occur when valves get damaged and allow backwards blood flow. This causes increased pressure within the vessel, resulting in bulging and further damage. Varicose veins can lead to aching, swelling, pain, Restless Leg Syndrome, and skin ulcerations in the lower legs.

Spider Veins

The black silhouette of a spider hanging from his web on a gray background

Spider veins are simply superficial vessels that have enlarged enough to be seen by the naked eye. Although they do not generally pose a threat to your health, in many cases they are a sign of damage in the deeper vessels which drain them. About 50 percent of patients with spider veins over the legs have damage in their deeper vessels.

Colorado Skin & Vein offers exceptional treatments for eliminating varicose veins and spider veins, including sclerotherapy and CoolTouch Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA), many of which are covered by insurance. If you have any questions about these treatments and would like more information, please call (303) 683-3235 or fill out our online contact form today to schedule your consultation.

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