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What is the difference between spider and varicose veins?

What is the difference between spider and varicose veins? Mainly I want to know if they are formed in the same way and if I can treat them in the same way. For example, I know that people with varicose veins wear support socks. Can I also use these to stop spider veins from forming?


Doctors Answers (3)

Varicose veins are large, worm-like, bulging veins often from back flow in larger, deeper veins. Spider veins are very similar and can have small "feeder veins" below the surface. Treatments are different. Compression will not cure either of these types of veins, but it can slow the process somewhat.

Varicose veins are large (greater than three millimeters diameter), rope-like, blue veins that often bulge above the surface of the skin. They can result from pregnancies, prolonged standing often related to an occupation such as a teacher, even choice of shoes are a factor in developing varicose veins. The problem can also start following a trauma or surgery with the larger superficial veins becoming damaged from increased venous pressure, usually due to a defect in a superficial Saphenous vein or from a perforating vein connecting a deep vein with a superficial vein. Spider veins are much smaller (less than a millimeter), red to purple in color, at the surface of the skin, and are due to either an increased pressure in the reticular veins (medium sized blue veins) or from single or repeating small traumas resulting in dilation of the capillaries. To reduce the incidence of developing problem veins, walk regularly, avoid prolonged standing especially on hard surfaces, choose shoes with flat soles that have good arch support and cushion, and consider wearing compression/support hose during the pregnancies.

Support hose do not stop spider or varicose veins from forming. They help with the symptoms and improve the way your legs feel.

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