Both spider veins and varicose veins are caused by malfunctioning valves within the veins. Properly working valves ensure that the blood always flows towards the heart. Damaged and weakened valves don’t close properly, and they, therefore, allow the blood to either flow backwards or in both directions, which eventually damages the veins.
What are Spider Veins?
Spider veins, or telangiectasias, are clusters of small veins that appear near the skin’s surface. They look like tree branches or a spider’s web. They are smaller than varicose veins and can appear near them. While spider veins can develop anywhere, they usually appear on the legs or face.
What are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are enlarged, twisted and distended veins near the skin’s surface. They are typically larger than the veins involved in spider veins. Varicose veins usually develop on the legs or ankles. Veins that transport blood up the legs have to work against gravity, so when their valves stop working properly, the blood collects in the legs and eventually causes the veins to become twisted and distended.
Are They Dangerous?
Spider veins and varicose veins are generally not a serious problem by themselves, although they can cause pain. However, spider veins and varicose veins are sometimes associated with the following serious conditions:
• Thrombosis, in which a blood clot develops within the enlarged vein. Deep vein thrombosis can be fatal if a blood clot breaks off and travels to a vital organ, like the lungs.
• Phlebitis, which is an inflammation caused by a blood clot in the vein
• Skin ulcers, when the skin doesn’t get enough oxygen
• Bleeding, which can occur when the skin over the vein becomes thin and fragile
Are Any Other Symptoms Associated with These Conditions?
Yes. Symptoms associated with spider veins include swelling, itchiness, rash, cramps or restless legs. Symptoms that can occur with varicose veins include swelling, itchiness and a dull ache or burning feeling in the legs.
When Should Someone See a Doctor?
Anybody with spider veins or varicose veins should have themselves examined to make sure they don’t have an underlying condition that might be causing them. A patient with spider veins or varicose veins especially needs to see our doctor if any of the following are true:
• Their leg suddenly swells up and becomes painful, for that might indicate a blood clot in a deep vein
• The patient develops an ulcer
• The patient’s symptoms don’t improve even after treatment
• The leg has a tender lump, which can indicate either a blood clot or inflammation
• The skin near the veins is becoming discolored or abnormally thick
What Treatment Are Available?
With locations in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Riverview and Lakeland, the Premier Vein Institute is here for you. We offer a wide variety of non-invasive treatments for addressing your varicose veins and/or spider veins. Contact us today to schedule your appointment to learn more about our treatment options.