Patients always ask me what the difference is between varicose veins and spider veins. The main difference is the size and location of the vein. Spider veins are small veins that are easily visible under the skin. They are red, purple and blue vessels that can twist and turn. They look like spiders or small spider webs. Typically, spider veins appear on the legs and face.
Typically, women have more spider and varicose veins than men. Medical studies show that 30% to 60% of adults have varicose or spider veins. The common cause of the development of varicose or spider veins is still unclear. Risk factors in the development of varicose or spider veins include: • Occupations involving a lot of standing, such as waitresses, nurses, teachers, and factory workers. • Obesity • Genetics • Use of birth control pills • History of blood clots • Hormonal influences of puberty, pregnancy, and menopause Sometimes, there can be symptoms associated with spider veins. Symptoms range from minor to mild pain to cramping. Other symptoms include leg tiredness, leg restlessness, burning in the affected area, throbbing, tingling, and heaviness in the legs. Women get the worst of it. Vein symptoms are often worse during certain parts of the menstrual cycle or pregnancy. If you show signs of these vein symptoms, it is best to elevate your legs or wear a support hose or stockings. There are various types of treatment for spider veins. Conservative and preventative measures include making some lifestyle changes, maintaining good skin hygiene, weight loss, and even a moderate walking regimen. For more definitive medical treatment, there are numerous factors to consider. During your consultation with me, we will discuss your wishes and I will advise you of the best treatment plan. Sclerotherapy This procedure is simple and relatively inexpensive. A highly concentrated saline solution or specially made detergent is injected directly into the vein. The vein will gradually disappear over 3 to 6 weeks. Endovenous Laser Treatment This procedure uses a small laser fiber inserted into the vein. Then, pulses of laser light are delivered inside the vein causing it to collapse. This procedure can be done under local anesthesia. Radiofrequency Occlusion Radiofrequency occlusion can be performed under local anesthesia. During this vein procedure, I insert a small probe into the vein. This probe emits radiofrequency energy to the vein wall. That causes the vein to heat up, collapse, and seal. Surgery Surgery is used to treat larger veins. There are many surgical techniques to treat spider veins including ligation and stripping. Ligating the vein means tying off the vein. Stripping the vein means removing a long segment of the vein. After this vein procedure, most patients can go home. Most of my patients choose sclerotherapy or laser treatment because it is inexpensive and done in the examination room. The time it takes to perform vein removal depends on the technique chosen and the number of veins that need to be removed. For more information on spider vein removal, please call my office.