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Breaking down the causes, symptoms, and treatments of venous conditions

Spider veins and varicose veins are two unsightly medical conditions that people have struggled with for years. Anyone who’s been afflicted with either condition knows they are a cosmetic blight that can lead to serious health issues if not properly handled. Many of our patients at Cosmetic Laser Centers have asked the same question you’re probably asking now. “What’s the difference between spider veins and varicose veins?”

Although both vein issues are similar in nature and where they manifest on the body, it’s important to note that they are symptomatically different and require their own specific treatment plan. Before we delve into that, let’s first examine the causes of these conditions.

What are the Root Causes of Spider Veins and Varicose Veins?

Spider veins and varicose veins display different symptoms, but their root causes both stem from venous insufficiency and other personal health factors.

Age and gender: Around the age of fifty, the likelihood that you’ll suffer from one of these vein problems significantly increases. Statistically, it’s more prevalent in females. 50-55 percent of women experience vein issues versus 40-45 percent of men.

Family history: Both spider veins and varicose veins can be hereditary. If you have family members that suffer with either condition, there’s a higher likelihood that you may develop them as well.

Pregnancy: There are several uncomfortable side-effects that women experience as a result of pregnancy, and spider veins and varicose veins are included on that list. Fortunately, they usually will go away around three months after giving birth once the body returns to normal

Personal health, hormones, and routine: Being overweight automatically puts you more at risk for developing spider veins and varicose veins. The same can be said for those individuals that stand for long periods of time as part of their daily routine. Finally, hormones have been linked to increasing the risk of both conditions. The most common are those found in birth control or used in hormone replacement therapy.

What are the Symptoms of Spider Veins Versus Varicose Veins?

Physical appearance and sensation: The big difference between spider veins and varicose veins are their appearance and locations on the body.

Spider veins can develop on the legs, feet, and face. They will appear just below the surface of the skin – usually blue, dark red, or purple in color – and form in a clustered web-like pattern. Oftentimes, there’s little to no physical discomfort associated with spider veins.

Varicose veins traditionally appear on the legs but can also develop on the ankles or feet. They won’t appear on the face. What differentiates varicose veins from spider veins are their thick, bulging appearance that makes them protrude from the skin. They also can cause an array of physical symptoms such as aches, pains, cramps, burning sensations, and a heavy feeling in the legs.

What are the Treatments for Spider Veins Versus Varicose Veins?

Most of the time, spider veins and varicose veins are a cosmetic problem that don’t cause a significant amount of discomfort. More severe cases in which the physical symptoms are affecting your daily life should be addressed as early as possible. Ignoring them could cause your discomfort to increase or lead to a more serious medical condition, such as a thrombophlebitis or deep vein thrombosis.

Prevention: A lot of spider vein and varicose vein treatment is by way of prevention. There’s nothing you can do about aging, but maintaining a healthy diet and weight is always going to work to your advantage. You’ll also want to avoid standing or sitting with your legs crossed for long periods of time, as that will negatively impact your blood flow and can lead to vein issues. Finally, always make sure to practice good skin hygiene.

Over-the-counter treatment: Wearing compression socks or stockings are cost-effective ways of maintaining vein issues by helping increase blood circulation. This method has been proven to help with feelings of discomfort and/or heaviness along with reducing swelling. Keep in mind though, compression socks will not resolve your vein issues completely. You’ll need to seek out more advanced forms of treatment.

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL): IPL is a treatment intended to reduce or eliminate the appearance of spider veins. This non-invasive photorejuvenation procedure involves giving the veins enough light that they heat up and shut down, eventually fading away from the surface of the skin. This method is typically used on spider veins located on the face.

Sclerotherapy: This is a time-tested spider vein treatment that has been used for over eighty years. Sclerotherapy treatments involve your doctor using a needle to inject a solution into the affected veins, which will cause them to close. Blood in the closed veins will then reroute to healthy veins. Eventually, the appearance of the spider veins will fade and your skin will appear normal again.

Sclerotherapy may sometimes be used in the case of small or medium varicose veins. The best way to determine that is by consulting your medical provider.

Endovenous Laser Ablation: This minimally-invasive treatment is used specifically for superficial (non-threatening) varicose veins. By using laser heat energy, this method effectively seals the targeted varicose veins shut, which allows the blood to reroute to other healthier veins.

Microphlebectomy: For non-superficial (threatening) varicose veins, an in-office outpatient procedure known as a microphlebectomy will be used. This requires administering a local anesthetic prior to removing the veins though punctures in the skin. It is sometimes combined with Endovenous Laser Ablation to increase its effectiveness.

Because Cosmetic Laser Centers does not treat varicose veins, you can learn more about treatment options from our partner, Vein Institute of Pittsburgh.

Schedule a Consultation For Spider Vein Removal

Cosmetic Laser Centers has been successfully treating patients with spider veins for years in the Pittsburgh and Warrendale areas. If you have veins in your legs, face, or other area that you’ve been struggling with, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Call us today at 724-204-6850 to get the process started.