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Spider Veins VS Varicose Veins: What Are the Differences?

People often use the terms “spider veins” and “varicose veins” interchangeably. While they are both parts of the body’s venous system they each have unique aspects to them.

Spider veins are often cosmetic-only issues, typically caused by hereditary or genetic factors. They can also be the result of hormonal changes. Varicose veins are typically a sign of an underlying medical problem and can lead to further health complications.

Dr. Craig Schwartz, the medical director at Premier Vein & Body by Schwartz in Kansas City, MO, is triple board-certified in vascular and general surgery and phlebology (venous disease). Dr. Schwartz provides treatment options for both spider veins and varicose veins.

Before & After Photo Gallery

*Individual Results May Vary

Real Patients. Real Results. View before & after images of vein and cosmetic procedures in our photo gallery.

Spider Vein Overview

Spider veins appear as blue, red, or purplish web-like veins (hence the name “spider” veins). They can occur in clusters on the calves, thighs, and ankles. Facial spider veins are also common and can be seen on the cheeks and/or nose. 

Spider veins are connected to larger, underlying reticular veins known as “feeder veins” that appear under the skin’s surface. They can sometimes cause itching, burning, throbbing, and aching sensations and are more likely to occur in women than men. 

They typically appear due to sitting or standing for long periods but can also appear due to genetics. Dr. Schwartz can treat spider veins effectively from his vein center in Kansas City.

Varicose Vein Overview

Varicose veins are often bulging, uncomfortable, and painful. These veins are caused by non-functioning valves inside the veins. When a vein becomes varicose, they lose their ability to carry blood up and away from the legs.

When this happens, the blood flows back down towards the feet. Once a vein becomes varicose, it will remain that way until treatment. As with spider veins, varicose veins are more common in women than men and those with a family history of the problem.

Untreated varicose veins can lead to heavy legs, fatigue, and swelling, and even open, weeping wounds around the ankles. Dr. Schwartz can treat varicose veins using in-office, minimally-invasive treatments from his vein center in Kansas City.

Spider vs. Varicose Veins: The Main Differences

The good news is that both spider veins and varicose veins are treatable. But, what are the main differences between the two? Arguably, the main difference is how spider veins are mainly a cosmetic concern, and varicose veins should be a direct medical concern. While spider vein clusters in the ankles can be a sign of an underlying venous issue, varicose veins are often seen as the more high-risk concern between the two. 

Another difference is the physical appearance of the types of veins. Spider veins measure around one millimeter in diameter (unless in clusters) and appear right under the surface of the skin. Varicose veins are large and protrude above the skin level. Varicose veins can also appear twisted and dark in color.

Consultations Available Now

To learn more, schedule your consultation with Dr. Schwartz by filling out the form on this page or by calling his practice at 913-451-8346. Premier Vein & Body by Schwartz serves patients throughout the Kansas City metro.

Spider Vein Treatments

Spider veins might not cause severe issues for people as varicose veins, but that doesn’t make them any less unsightly. Fortunately, Dr. Schwartz provides a range of in-office spider vein treatment options.

Dr. Schwartz recommends treating spider veins with a combination of sclerotherapy injections and laser therapy. Sclerotherapy involves injecting an FDA-approved solution directly into the veins and topical laser therapy heats the veins using photocoagulation. For the tiniest of spider veins, especially on the face and nose, Dr. Schwartz may employ an alternative to laser therapy – the VeinGogh treatment, which relies on thermocoagulation to treat the spider veins.

All of these options cause the affected veins to collapse and seal shut. Laser therapy or VeinGogh are used for the smallest veins that are too tiny to treat with Sclerotherapy. 

Varicose Vein Treatments

When it comes to treating varicose veins, Dr. Schwartz offers four varicose vein treatment options depending on the vein’s nature and severity. 

First, Dr. Schwartz will recommend a period of conservative therapy, which includes the wearing of compression stockings for six to twelve weeks, as this is often required by insurance providers prior to approving vein treatment procedures. The gold standard in treating varicose veins is the EVLA (endovenous laser ablation) procedure using the Sciton Pro-V laser system. In the case of bulging veins that will not reabsorb on their own after EVLA, a number of  ambulatory phlebectomies may be required. Finally, in the case of deep feeder veins, ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy is used to treat varicose veins below the skin’s surface that aren’t visible to the naked eye.

Am I a Candidate for Vein Treatment?

You may require vascular treatment if you experience spider veins or varicose veins. Insurance companies often cover varicose vein treatments, but they often require patients to trial compression stockings first.

All vein treatments offered at Premier Vein & Body are performed as outpatient procedures and require minimal downtime. Patients can resume their daily activities after treatment but should avoid physical exercise for a few days post-treatment.


*Individual Results May Vary


Read from real patients about their experiences with Dr. Schwartz and his team at Premier Vein & Body by Schwartz.

Take the Next Step

If you have further questions about spider or varicose veins, call us at (913) 451-8346 or fill out our online contact form. We look forward to meeting you and showing you how Kansas City’s premier vein treatment center can improve your condition.

Premier Vein & Body is located in Kansas City, MO and proudly also serves Overland Park, Johnson County, and the entire Kansas City metro area.

** This blog provides general information and discussion about medicine, health, and related subjects. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately licensed physician.

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