There is a lot of confusion surrounding the dangers of spider veins or varicose veins, and patients are often left wondering which one is more dangerous or severe. While there is not always a clear linear path between the development of these two conditions, they do have different risk factors and similar causes, which makes understanding the relationship between the two even more difficult.
So, is a varicose vein worse than a spider vein? Should they both get treated with equal urgency? What happens if you don’t have your vein treated? And how does a problematic vein get treated anyway?
How Do Our Veins Work?
Lungs & Heart
The best way to understand the difference between a varicose vein and a spider vein is first to understand, briefly, our cardiovascular system. Your heart and lungs work together to provide oxygenated blood throughout the entire body. The heart is divided into four parts: the left atrium, left ventricle, right atrium and right ventricle.
The left atrium of the heart receives oxygen-rich blood from the lungs and dumps it into the left ventricle. The left ventricle pumps this blood to the rest of the body. The right atrium receives oxygen-depleted blood from the body and dumps it into the right ventricle, which then delivers it to the lungs for reoxygenation.
Vein & Arteries
A common misconception is that veins and arteries are the same thing or that the difference between them is only a matter of size. In reality, veins and arteries have very specific jobs. Arteries are responsible for delivering oxygenated blood to the body, whereas veins are responsible for returning deoxygenated blood to the heart.
This is why we call these conditions varicose veins or spider veins and not arteries — because the issue lies in the vein’s inability to return the blood to the heart effectively.
What Is a Varicose Vein?
A varicose vein is a problematic vein found in the body (but usually in the legs or thighs) that has become weakened and is no longer able to maintain proper blood flow. A vein can become varicose for a variety of reasons ranging from genetics to trauma. When the damaged vein fails to push the blood back to the heart, a pool of blood develops, creating a swollen appearance.
This most commonly occurs in the legs since standing significantly increases the blood pressure and strain of the veins on the legs. This is partly why people who spend long periods of time standing are believed to be more susceptible to varicose vein development.
What Is a Spider Vein?
A spider vein is considered to be a milder form of the varicose vein. So, the answer to the original question is: yes, varicose veins tend to be worse than spider veins. Nevertheless, you should seek out medical treatment for both conditions right away to ensure a spider vein doesn’t become an actual concern.
While varicose veins tend to be bulbous and large, spider veins are smaller and more subtle but have been characterized by the small dark lines they leave on legs. This discoloration is likely caused by broken vessels caused by increased blood pressure in the problematic vein area.
What Happens If I Don’t Treat My Spider or Varicose Veins?
You should always seek out medical treatment if you think you have developed varicose veins or match the description of the condition. Left untreated, varicose veins can pose a significant threat to your health, including the development of:
- Intense pain at the vein site
- Heavy cramping in the leg
- Excessive swelling and discomfort
- Fatigue in the affected area
- Severe rashing near the vein
- Infections and bleeding from open sores
- Blood clots developing in in the body
While spider veins are considered to be less detrimental than varicose veins, you should still seek out treatment since many of the same issues can develop over time. They can be painful, inflamed, itchy and even develop sores.
How Can I Treat My Problematic Vein?
There is a gold standard when it comes to venous insufficiency treatment, and it is known as endovenous laser treatment (EVLT). It is a minimally invasive procedure that can be performed on an outpatient basis, and it has been given a 95% success rate in published clinical studies. There is no downtime associated with this treatment so that you can get back to your usual routine as quickly as possible.
EVLT is perhaps one of the most popular and effective means of treatment for varicose veins, but there are some others like sclerotherapy and an ambulatory phlebectomy. While these are still viable treatment methods, newer techniques like EVLT are currently at the cutting edge of market development.
Why Should I Choose Dr. Jimenez?
When it comes to experience, Dr. James Jimenez was the first in the panhandle to perform the EVLT procedure. Over the years, his techniques have been perfected, and his expertise widened. He has a storied educational history, having attended New York Medical College and completing residency and fellowship at L.I.J. Medical Center of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
He is also board certified by The American Board of Medical Specialties and has a Certificate of Added Qualifications in Vascular and Interventional Radiology. In addition, he holds certification from the American Board of Venous and Lymphatic Medicine.
Expert Vein Treatment from the Vein Center of Florida and South Baldwin
If you are ready to learn more about how ridding yourself of varicose or spider veins can turn your life around and relieve pain, discomfort or that feeling of self-consciousness, give our office a call at 1-800-910-8346. You can also fill out our online contact form to have a member of our team reach out to you at a later time.