What is the Difference Between Spider Veins and Varicose Veins?

“What are those lines on your legs?” When a partner points at what looks like a road map on your legs, more concerned than disgusted, it can be terribly embarrassing. Especially if you were making a seductive approach. No woman wants her gorgeous legs to have any flaws at all, let alone lines and bumps that make their legs (and thus them) look old.

If you’ve noticed some lines on your legs, and are keeping yourself covered up with maxi dresses in summer, long yoga pants year-round, and the darkest shades of leggings or stockings beneath a skirt, you’re living in hiding. And probably not feeling very attractive or alluring.

So just what are those lines that are causing you so much annoyance and lower self-confidence? Spider veins or varicose veins? There are some easy ways to tell the two types of cosmetic vein problems apart, so that you can get to the part of having a board-certified physician reduce their appearance or get rid of them altogether.

Spider veins are usually very fine lines that you can’t feel when you brush your fingertips over them. They’re not raised, but they are thin reddish or purplish lines or clusters of lines on the legs that can sometimes look like a bruise. Varicose veins are wider, often four to five millimeters in width, bluer in color, and tend to be raised lines that you can feel when you brush your fingertips against that area of your legs. (And so can other people!) They’re usually soft and spongy, but they can sometimes feel hard if they’ve clotted.

Then, there’s the pain factor. Spider veins generally do not cause any pain, although some women say that they can feel discomfort during or around their menstrual cycle. Varicose veins can be painful, again possibly getting worse during and around your menstrual cycle, when your estrogen and progesterone levels surge and cycle as a normal part of your period.

Both types of vein issues are more disturbing than dangerous, but once you find out they’re safely and efficiently treated, relief is in sight. Both spider veins and varicose veins can easily be eliminated through three different treatments: sclerotherapy, laser ablation or microphlebectomy. Your doctor will assess your vein appearances, make a diagnosis, and suggest the ideal procedure to return your legs to their previous, unlined, bump-free appearance and free you from any pain or discomfort you’re experiencing. All three of these procedures are done on an outpatient basis in your doctor’s office, most often in less than one hour’s time, and require little if any downtime.  You likely spend far more than one hour’s time trying to shop for clothing that covers up your legs, and you might even spend more than one hour’s time stressing about those lines on your legs.

It’s a simple fix for either spider veins or varicose veins, and after you do get your procedure done, you’ll soon have smooth, touchable, line-free legs to show off, and feel younger and happier than you did before you sought your doctor’s opinion and treatment. Soon, your partner who once spotted those lines on your legs will only notice what great legs you have.


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