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Can Spider Veins Turn Into Varicose Veins?

Spider veins are often confused with varicose veins, which is understandable considering both conditions can cause red or purplish veins to be visible on the surface of the skin. While both spider veins and varicose veins are both are forms of venous insufficiency, they are indeed two separate conditions and spider veins can’t “turn into” varicose veins or vice versa. 

However, what these two vein conditions do have in common is that they’re both influenced primarily to genetics, so if you have one you’re likely to have the other as well. Let’s take a look at how spider veins and varicose veins are different, and how each can be treated. 

How Spider & Varicose Veins Are Different

Spider veins are typically very thin red or purple-blue in appearance that are most commonly found on the legs and face. They are actually dilated veins near the surface of the skin that twist and turn somewhat like the shape of a spider web. While harmless and painless, spider veins do tend to spread and become more visible over time with age and sun exposure.

In contrast, varicose veins usually occur in the legs and are deeper and larger than spider veins. They may be visible on the surface of the skin as bulging, twisted veins, although not all varicose veins are visible. 

Varicose veins form when one-way valves in the veins of the legs fail to keep the blood flow moving upward towards the heart. The sluggish blood flow causes inflammation, which can result in a range of symptoms including swelling, heaviness, fatigue, aching, pain, or restless legs. 

While the physiology and appearance of spider and varicose veins are different, genetics are the leading cause of both and it’s extremely common for people to have both spider and varicose veins. The treatment of each condition, however, differs depending on the severity of each.

Treatment For Spider Veins Vs. Varicose Veins 

Unlike varicose veins, spider veins don’t cause uncomfortable symptoms like swelling, aching, or restlessness as frequently as varicose veins. But they can cause symptoms of pain in some patients, particularly itching and burning.  

Like varicose veins, spider veins don’t go away or get better on their own and can become more pronounced with factors such as sun exposure and hormone fluctuations. 

In addition, as the skin loses collagen and becomes thinner with age, spider veins tend to spread or become more visible. Spider veins that appear on the legs may also worsen with long periods of sitting or standing.

Fortunately, treatment of spider veins is easier than ever. Sclerotherapy is a very effective treatment in which a nontoxic liquid sclerosant is injected into the spider veins with very fine needles to close the diseased veins down. Sclerotherapy is considered the gold standard in treatment of most patients’ spider veins of the legs.

The procedure is very well tolerated, can be performed in under an hour, and requires no pain medication, scalpels or stitches. Sclerotherapy is quite effective in eliminating the majority of visible spider veins. In addition, it’s often used in conjunction with laser treatments of varicose veins to achieve further relief.

The other difference in treating spider veins versus varicose veins is that while varicose vein treatments are covered by insurance, treatment of spider veins are not. Insurance companies consider spider veins to be cosmetic in nature.

Although spider veins are considered cosmetic and therefore are not covered by insurance, most patients find the cost of treatment surprisingly affordable.

If you are embarrassed by your spider veins or feel that they are limiting your lifestyle because of how they look, know that there are quick and easy treatments available to get rid of them. The same is true for treatment of varicose veins.

There are many options for the treatment of spider and varicose veins and your best option depends on the severity of your condition, and your desired outcomes. The most important aspect to consider is that you don’t need to put up with prolonged discomfort from either spider or varicose veins any longer.

At East Tennessee Vein Clinic, you’ll find the help you need so that you don’t have to suffer from symptoms such as swelling, aching, throbbing, heaviness, or restless legs. When our patients learn that today’s advanced treatments are quick and require little to no down time—plus are typically covered by insurance—they’re glad they didn’t delay treatment any longer.

As the first physician dedicated solely to the treatment of varicose vein disease in Tennessee, Dr. Douglass and East Tennessee Vein Clinic lead the region in experience and expertise of varicose veins. We treat varicose veins differently than other clinics precisely because of our dedication to treating the root cause and the full extent of each patient’s varicose vein disease AND because it is the only thing they do.  You treat things with a different level of care when your entire practice revolves around one thing-varicose veins.

Visit us online at East Tennessee Vein Clinic, or request an appointment online today. We are offering free vein screenings for new patients through December. Please inquire about our free screenings when calling our office at 866-281-VEIN.

“Wonderful, caring and friendly staff.”

- G. S., Knoxville, TN

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