top of page
  • Writer's pictureDr Desmond Ooi

Varicose Veins VS Spider Veins: What’s The Difference?

In the realm of vascular health, two terms are often used interchangeably, leading to some confusion: varicose veins and spider veins. While they share a common thread in the form of visible veins just beneath the skin's surface, these two vascular conditions are inherently different in their causes, characteristics, and the impact they have on your health. Whether you're looking to differentiate between the two or seeking guidance on prevention and treatment, this blog will be your compass in navigating the realm of vascular health.

Understanding Varicose Veins 

Varicose veins appear as enlarged, twisted veins that may be purple, blue or green in colour. They often bulge beneath the skin, forming visible cords and knots. They can take between 3 and 6 months to fully form.

They are commonly caused by the weakening of valves in veins as a result of high blood pressure, which in turn causes blood to pool at certain points near the surface of the skin and the veins to enlarge.

Common symptoms of varicose veins include heaviness and swelling in the legs, ankles and feet. The skin around the affected areas can feel itchy and become dry. They may also cause an aching, dull and persistent pain in the legs that worsens after prolonged standing or sitting.

Usually, varicose veins won’t cause long-term problems. However, in some cases, they can lead to serious complications like inflammation, ulcers on the lower legs and ankles, bleeding and Deep Vein Thrombosis.

Understanding Spider Veins 

Spider veins, or thread veins, appear as small threads that spread out to look like spider webs or tree branches. They are usually red in colour and, though visible, do not bulge or affect the surface of the skin.

Many conditions can increase the likelihood of spider veins, including age, sun exposure, hormones and pregnancy, and obesity. However, the cause of spider veins is the weakening of valves in blood vessels, causing blood to pool near the surface of the skin.


Symptoms of spider veins include itching around the affected areas, changes in skin colour and appearance around the veins, achy and heavy legs, swelling in the legs, ankles and feet, and a burning, throbbing, or cramping pain in the legs, especially after prolonged standing or sitting.


Most spider veins are harmless and can be left alone or treated for cosmetic purposes. However, they can be an indicator of other complications such as venous insufficiency. If left untreated, spider veins may become varicose veins.

Similarities & Differences 

Let's demystify varicose veins and spider veins with a side-by-side look at what makes them similar and different.

varicose and spider veins comparison table

Treatments For Varicose & Spider Veins

The distinction between treatments for varicose veins and spider veins lies in the underlying causes and the severity of the conditions. Varicose veins, characterised by bulging, twisted veins, often require more extensive interventions. Endovenous thermal ablation, a minimally invasive procedure, uses heat to seal affected veins, redirecting blood flow to healthier vessels. Venaseal, another option, involves using medical adhesive to close the problematic vein. Surgical procedures like vein stripping and ligation may be recommended for severe cases. 

In contrast, spider veins are typically addressed through less invasive methods. Sclerotherapy involves injecting a solution into the veins, causing them to collapse and gradually fade. Laser therapy is another non-invasive option, using focused light to eliminate spider veins.

Get Your Varicose Veins Treated with Dr Desmond Ooi

dr desmond ooi

Embark on the journey to alleviate varicose veins and enhance the health of your legs with the expertise of Dr. Desmond Ooi. Bid farewell to discomfort and welcome a path towards healthier legs. Schedule your consultation today and allow Dr. Desmond Ooi to guide you on the road to optimal vein health and well-being

15 views0 comments


bottom of page