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Spider Veins vs. Varicose Veins: What is the Difference?

Conveniently located to serve San Antonio and surrounding communities.

Varicose veins and spider veins are common conditions that affect many people. These problems may be merely cosmetic, or they may represent a more serious underlying health condition. While they may seem similar, spider veins and varicose veins have some very distinct differences.

Varicose veins develop when veins grow enlarged, dilated, and overfilled with blood. They tend to be painful and are characterized by their red or bluish color. They normally appear raised, swollen, and twisted or ropey.

Causes of Varicose Veins

Varicose veins develop when there is a dysfunction in a vein. Healthy veins have a valve that works in only one direction, allowing blood to flow properly. Varicose veins have faulty veins that cannot prevent blood from flowing backwards. This causes blood to pool in the veins, rather than returning to the heart.

Varicose veins are most commonly found in the lower legs because this area is the most distant from your heart, and it is more difficult for blood to flow upward due to the force of gravity.

The following are some common causes of varicose veins:

  • chronic heart valve disorders
  • menopause
  • pregnancy
  • pressure around the abdomen
  • standing for prolonged periods

Symptoms of Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are most often identified by very noticeable, ropey veins commonly evident on the legs. This may be accompanied by swelling, pain, aches in the legs, and heaviness. Sometimes, these same symptoms also show themselves on the ankles.

Spider Veins vs. Varicose Veins

Varicose veins and spider veins have many of the same causes, but they appear differently. Spider veins are smaller than varicose veins and take on a web-like appearance, giving them their name. Spider veins appear just under the surface of the skin. Since they tend to be red or blueish and are found in clusters, they may somewhat resemble a bruise.


If you notice any of these signs and symptoms on your legs and believe you may have spider veins, the Plastic and Cosmetic Center of South Texas may be able to help. An examination of your legs and the veins that are visible through your skin can help determine if you suffer from varicose veins or spider veins.

If it is confirmed that you have spider veins, the Plastic and Cosmetic Center of South Texas offers spider vein treatment with laser ablation. The process takes no more than two 45-minute treatments, causes no discomfort, and requires no downtime. If you would like to diagnose and treat your spider veins, schedule an appointment with us in San Antonio for a consultation.

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