When talking about swollen veins on the legs, you may hear terms such as varicose veins and spider veins used interchangeably, even though these are two different vein issues. While they can occur for similar reasons, it’s essential to know the difference when deciding what treatment options are best for you.
What Are Spider Veins?
Spider veins are small, damaged veins that appear as thin lines or branched webs on the legs, close to the skin’s surface. Usually blue, red, or purple in color, these veins are not often painful and do not indicate worsening health conditions but are typically treated for cosmetic reasons.
What Are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are large, twisting veins that bulge above the skin. They are found mainly in the legs but can also appear in other body areas, such as the arms. Varicose veins are caused by many factors, including gravity and genetics. Eventually, varicose veins form because of the increased pressure in the veins due to gravity pulling blood down towards the heart. Some people with varicose veins may only be concerned with their cosmetic appearance; however, some patients develop more severe health problems if their varicose veins are not treated.
How Varicose Veins and Spider Veins are Alike
Both varicose veins and spider veins are caused by blood vessel malfunctions. The malfunction stems from a valve that does not adequately control blood flow through the vein. Spider veins come from the same issue, although their likelihood can be worsened by conditions like obesity, heredity, pregnancy, and menopause.
How Varicose Veins and Spider Veins Are Different
Varicose and spider veins differ in appearance: varicose veins are raised, swollen blood vessels twisted and turned beneath the skin; spider veins are smaller superficial blood vessels. Varicose veins can be painful; spider veins typically don’t hurt.
Spider veins are sometimes a sign of varicose veins. However, it is not guaranteed that spider veins will become varicose veins. Spider veins around the ankle can be an indication of venous insufficiency.
Signs and Symptoms of Vein Conditions
In addition to the visible signs of varicose and spider veins, you might experience some or all of the following symptoms:
- Leg muscle cramps
- burning and/or itching sensations in the legs
- tiredness in the legs
- swollen ankles and legs
Varicose Veins and Spider Veins Treatments
Varicose and spider veins are treated differently. Spider veins are treated with cosmetic injections, while varicose veins need to be addressed by treating the underlying cause of venous insufficiency. Ultrasound will need to be performed on your legs to determine the underlying cause. There are many options for treating varicose veins and spider veins, and Coastal Vascular Center offers many state-of-the-art solutions. Many of our treatments are minimally invasive, allowing you to heal quickly.
- Laser Ablation – A procedure used to treat varicose veins. During EVLT (endovenous laser treatment), a local anesthetic is applied, and a thin laser fiber is inserted into the targeted vein in the leg. The heat from the thread disrupts the vein’s walls, diverting blood flow to surrounding veins. The affected vein can then be absorbed by the body, offering immediate relief of symptoms.
- Radiofrequency Ablation – This procedure uses heat generated by radio waves to close the vein. This minimally invasive procedure is fast, resulting in reducing varicose veins’ appearance.
- Sclerotherapy – This minimally-invasive procedure treats both spider veins and small varicose veins. A solution is injected into the affected vein, causing it to constrict and gradually be reabsorbed by the body. Over time, the vein will disappear, treating any cosmetic concerns and the uncomfortable symptoms of varicose veins.
- Ambulatory Phlebectomy– This procedure is used when the veins are too large for sclerotherapy. This outpatient procedure removes leg veins through tiny punctures in the skin and uses local anesthesia.
Coastal Vascular Center
Coastal Vascular Center, a leading interventional radiological specialist, offers effective options for treating artery and vein disease. The center uses cutting-edge technology that maximizes results while minimizing the downtime required for the patient.
“We provide personalized care and exceptional results,” says Dr. Divyang C. Ayar, an interventional radiology specialist and the director of the Coastal Vascular Center. “We treat the whole person, and that means using affordable and minimally invasive treatments, but that also get the results clients want to see.
Dr. Ayar has more than 20 years of experience as a radiologist. Additionally, he is a member of the Society of Interventional Radiology. He was also named one of the best doctors in southeast Texas by Castle Connolly. He draws on his advanced professional training and experience to identify and perfect the best techniques to treat varicose veins and other vascular issues.
The goal of Coastal Vascular Center is to provide the best treatment with a minimal amount of discomfort or inconvenience to the patient. That means lower procedure times and lower recovery times where possible. Ayar and staff stay on top of the most cutting-edge procedures. This ensures they always offer the best treatments available for vascular disorders.
Don’t hesitate to get help for your veins. Coastal Vascular Center serves Pearland residents. Schedule an appointment today.