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Varicose Veins

What’s the Difference between Spider Veins & Varicose Veins?

Dr. W. Y. Chung, MD - Friday, August 11, 2017
Varicose veins and spider veins on a woman's leg
Varicose veins and spider veins are visible veins on the surface of the skin that indicate an underlying problem with reverse venous flow. Reverse venous flow, also known as venous insufficiency, is a condition that occurs when the valves inside the leg veins become weak, damaged or otherwise compromised. These valves are responsible for pumping blood back to the heart from the lower extremities. When they don’t work effectively, blood pools and collects inside the vein. When this occurs, the veins become stretched, elongated and engorged. 
 
Related: The Importance of Healthy Veins

What are varicose veins?

Varicose veins are swollen, engorged, twisted veins that you can see just under the surface of the skin. They are most commonly found in the legs but can form in other parts of the body as well.

What are spider veins?

Spider veins are small red or blue veins that are easily visible on the face or legs. They are most common in pregnant women and the elderly. Spider veins occur when capillaries on the skin become dilated, resembling the legs of a spider.

What is the main difference between spider veins and varicose veins?

While the causes of varicose veins and spider veins may be similar, there are distinct differences between the two. With varicose veins, the valves inside the vein are diseased and are unable to sufficiently pump blood back to the heart, allowing reflux and backflow. Varicose veins can cause pain, numbness and fatigue in the legs. While spider veins are small, discolored veins that resemble tiny spider legs sprawling across the skin. They are generally not painful and can be treated cosmetically.

Related: The Top 5 Cosmetic Treatments to Get Ready For Summer

How are spider veins and varicose veins treated or managed?


Doctor using ultrasound to check for varicose veinsSclerotherapy

Ultrasound Guided Sclerotherapy is the new technique of performing sclerotherapy on the small veins that connect the deeper and more superficial veins of the leg that lead to chronic spider and varicose veins.

Phlebectomy

Once varicose veins have formed on the surface, they remain permanently dilated and damaged with blood clots in them. Phlebectomy is the simple process of making micro incisions in the skin to remove them under local anesthesia. 

This eliminates that particular vein permanently and leaves no scarring. You can also return to activity the same day. Phlebectomy is also covered under most insurance plans.

Endovenous laser therapy

This is the cornerstone of our treatments. This procedure closes the superficial vein that is the source of varicose and spider veins-the great saphenous vein. A special laser is inserted into the thigh under local anesthesia. The heat from the laser closes the vein in under an hour.

If you suffer from spider veins or varicose veins and are looking for innovative, minimally invasive treatment options, then call The Vein & Skin Center of Hawaii today at (808) 949-8346 to schedule a consultation. 

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