Spider & Varicose Veins: Explained

June 28, 2017

It’s the peak of shorts and swimsuit season and an unwelcome guest has joined the party. Those pesky patches of blue and red webs that often appear on legs just below the surface of the skin, as well as larger knotted blue veins that protrude outwards, are known as spider veins and varicose veins. Anybody can get them, but women are twice as likely as men.

Spider vs. Varicose: What’s the difference?

“Spider veins present as groupings of fine red, purple, or blue lines beneath the surface of the skin,” explains Dr. Julie Gilkeson, vascular surgeon with Kettering Physician Network, “Varicose veins are larger tracks of blue veins that often twist and protrude from the surface of the skin.”

Why do they occur?

Spider and varicose veins occur when there is increased pressure in veins that leads to pooling of blood.

What causes them?

There are several common factors that contribute to spider or varicose veins that include:

  • Family history and age
  • Jobs that require prolonged standing, such as nurses, hair stylists, teachers, and factory workers
  • Obesity
  • Hormonal influences of pregnancy, puberty, and menopause
  • Trauma or injury to the skin

How can I prevent them?

  1. Keep the blood flowing. If you sit for extended periods of time, try to walk, stretch, and move at least once an hour.
  2. Get some support. if you work in a job that requires you to be on your feet, try wearing compression stockings that can help prevent blood from pooling.
  3. Relieve the pressure. Maintaining a healthy weight and elevating your feet when resting will help keep pressure out of your legs and lessen 

How can I treat them?

“If you have varicose veins it is important to see a doctor and have them treated,” says Dr. Gilkeson. “Treating varicose veins will help reduce pressure in the legs and decrease the chances for additional spider veins to develop.

Spider veins are mostly cosmetic in nature but there are several convenient and effective treatments available. Sclerotherapy involves injecting a solution into the affected vein to stop blood flow to the affected area and allow the spider veins to fade after a few weeks. Laser therapy is best for smaller, very fine reddish spider veins since they are more difficult to inject.

If spider or varicose veins are causing you discomfort or you are unhappy about the way they look you can do something about them.

“We always recommend patients who are concerned about spider or varicose veins to a see a doctor to rule out the possibility of a larger, underlying vascular issue,” says Dr. Gilkeson. 


Learn more about spider and varicose veins and available treatments on our website, here.