image of varicose veins


Both varicose veins and spider veins share the same underlying cause, venous insufficiency. Venous insufficiency is when your veins have trouble sending blood from your arms and legs back to the heart. This then causes blood to pool up in your veins and become more visible to the naked eye.

But what is the difference between spider veins and varicose veins? Though both varicose veins and spider veins are classified as vein disorders, they do have some differences.


Spider Veins

Spider veins are very small, usually less than one millimeter in diameter. They are may appear red, blue, purplish, or greenish in color and look like a spider web or tree limb just below the surface of the skin. Spider veins can develop anywhere on the body but are more commonly found on the face and legs.

Spider veins, unlike varicose veins, do not make the skin bulge, and generally do not lead to other health problems. There are several treatment options for spider veins including sclerotherapy. Spider veins can diminish within weeks of treatment, providing healthier-looking skin.


Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are twisted, bulging blood vessels that can be seen just under the skin. Symptoms of varicose veins include leg pain, cramping, pelvic pain, and leg swelling. One of the most common complaints by patients suffering from varicose veins is their legs feel tired and achy.

Varicose veins may not cause any severe health conditions, but in some cases, could lead to more serious problems. Severe health conditions include:

  • Sores or Skin Ulcers: Because of the chronic, long-term back up of blood, some patients with untreated varicose veins may develop sores or ulcers that may be painful.
  • Bleeding: The skin over a bulging varicose vein can become thin and easily injured. In some cases, an injury to the location of a varicose vein can cause significant blood loss.
  • Superficial Thrombophlebitis: Superficial thrombophlebitis is a common condition in which a blood clot forms in a surface-layer vein. While anyone can develop superficial thrombophlebitis, women experience them more often than men.
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT): Deep vein thrombosis is a serious condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in a vein deep inside the body. These are typically found in your thigh or lower leg and cause a “pulling” feeling in the calf, pain, warmth, redness, and swelling. DVT can cause serious health complications and should be treated immediately.

There are several varicose vein treatments available including compression therapy, ligation, and ambulatory microphlebectomy. Your doctor will recommend the proper treatment for your specific situation after a diagnostic study.

When to Talk to Your Doctor

Not sure if you have varicose or spider veins? Premier Vein Specialists offers free, confidential screenings at both our York and Hanover offices. During your screening, Dr. Mathai will perform a general evaluation of your vein health and provide recommendations for treatment options.

Treatments for varicose and spider veins are out-patient and do not require a hospital visit. Varicose and spider vein treatments are minimally invasive and can provide both health and cosmetic benefits. As part of your treatment plan, Dr. Mathai will also help you understand how to prevent varicose veins afterward, so you can enjoy vein health.

To schedule your free vein health screening, call us at 717-412-7226 to schedule an appointment, or fill out our free health screening form. We are here to help you love your legs again!

At Premier Vein Specialists, your health is our priority. Our offices in York and Hanover only admit one patient at a time, and we follow all health and safety guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.