Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Are varicose veins the same thing as spider veins?"
If the veins in my legs look funny and dark does that mean that I have varicose veins or spider veins? Are they the same thing? What can a doctor do to help with veins like this?
Spider veins and varicose veins are two different, but related conditions that are common especially as we age and our veins and our skin degenerate. Spider veins are tiny 'squiggly' veins that start to appear under the surface of the skin; they can be caused by the degeneration of tiny veins under the skin due to chronic pressure backup, or they can also occur as a result of certain chronic medical conditions or hormonal fluctuations. They are also very common from sun damage to the skin. Varicose veins are, like spider veins, generally caused by pressure backup in the veins. However, unlike the tiny veins of spider veins, varicose veins are large and usually cause 'bumps' under the skin from where they swell out. The tend to occur most commonly in women, due to the effects of genetics and pregnancy. If you are dealing with either spider veins or varicose veins, the place to start would be to see your primary care doctor for an evaluation. They can confirm the diagnosis and suggest treatments, if treatment is necessary. Spider veins can sometimes be treated by a dermatologist, whereas large varicose veins may actually need a surgical intervention to fix.
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