Varicose Veins vs. Spider Veins: What’s the Difference?

What’s the difference between varicose and spider veins? Do I have varicose veins or spider veins?

Are you wondering about the difference between varicose veins and spider veins and how to tell which you may have? Look no further – here’s a primer on their specific characteristics, symptoms, and more.

Varicose veins are thicker and denser than spider veins

Varicose veins and spider veins are both veins that have become enlarged, though in different ways. Varicose veins are usually visible from the skin’s surface and often appear as a twisted, raised knot. They are usually more than 3 millimeters in diameter and are mainly caused by a weakening in the walls of the vein, which leads to backward blood accumulation in the leg veins and eventual vein dilation. They are most commonly found on the legs.

On the other hand, spider veins are much smaller than varicose veins and only visible at close range. They look like thin red or blue lines on the skin’s surface. They are caused by a clotting or stoppage of the blood flow in the veins, resulting in pressure being applied to the walls of the vein, causing them to become enlarged. They are often found in the face, chest, arms, and legs. Spider veins often look like a dense mass of spider webs.

Varicose veins are more serious than spider veins

Varicose veins can cause pain, aching, and fatigue, and if left untreated, can lead to more serious health issues such as ulcers, blood clots, and in rare cases, deep vein thrombosis. While spider veins can cause physical discomfort and a feeling of heaviness in the legs, they are generally considered more of a cosmetic issue than a health concern. It is always best to have a thorough examination by your doctor.

Varicose veins vs. spider veins: what’s the difference? This article describes the unique features of varicose veins and spider veins and helps you identify your vein problems.

So, how do you know if you have varicose or spider veins?

If you’re unsure if you have varicose veins or spider veins, it’s best to consult a vein doctor. Your vein doctor can conduct a physical examination and determine if the veins in your legs are varicose or spider veins. The board-certified vein doctors at our state-of-the-art medical centers for vein treatment in New York carefully examine your leg veins, discuss your symptoms, and curate personalized treatment plans consisting of minimally invasive procedures.

You can find our medical centers for vein treatment in Midtown Manhattan (close to the Chrysler Building) or the Financial District. Please schedule an appointment at your nearest medical center for vein treatment in New York.

What causes varicose veins and spider veins?

Varicose veins and spider veins can be unsightly and uncomfortable medical conditions. They’re typically caused by a medical condition called chronic venous insufficiency, which is when your veins are unable to efficiently transport blood back to the heart.

Several factors can contribute to chronic venous insufficiency and, in turn, varicose and spider veins. Genetic factors, such as having a family history of varicose veins, can increase the risk of developing the condition. Additionally, standing or sitting for long periods without movement, excessive weight and lack of exercise, increasing age, and hormone changes, such as those experienced during pregnancy, can contribute to the development of varicose veins and spider veins.

The body relies on the veins to help move the deoxygenated blood in your body to the heart. To do that, the veins need to contract to push the blood to the heart, especially in regions where the blood must travel against the force of gravity, i.e., the legs to your heart. The valves can weaken when excessive pressure is placed on the veins due to the aforementioned factors, allowing the blood to flow backward and collect in the veins.

Over time, the accumulation of blood in leg veins leads to varicose veins and spider veins.


Experiencing symptoms of vein disease? Book an appointment with one of the our Vein Specialists in New York.

Your information is encrypted and secure. By registering you confirm that you accept Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

What are the risk factors for venous insufficiency?

Venous insufficiency is a serious medical condition that develops when the veins in your legs can’t properly transport blood back to your heart. It occurs when the valves in your leg veins can’t close properly, and blood starts to pool in your legs, causing leg pain, fatigue, and swelling in your feet and lower legs. If left untreated, venous insufficiency can result in more serious complications, like skin discoloration and ulcers.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing venous insufficiency. One of the biggest risk factors for venous insufficiency is age; veins naturally weaken as we age. Some people are also more likely to get venous insufficiency because of their family history—if someone in your family has a history of venous insufficiency, you should talk to your vein doctor about being screened and lifestyle changes to mitigate risk.

A sedentary lifestyle is also a major risk factor for developing venous insufficiency. Sitting or standing for long periods can cause blood to pool in your veins and increase your risk of developing the condition. If you work in a job that requires you to remain seated or stand for prolonged periods, you should take frequent breaks to walk around and get your blood moving.

Pregnancy can also increase your risk of venous insufficiency because the increased weight of the baby can put extra pressure on your veins. Vein trauma can also increase your risk of developing venous insufficiency. Trauma can cause blood clots and deep vein thrombosis, leading to venous insufficiency. If you were in an accident or sustained any injury, you should be monitored to ensure your veins are functioning correctly.

Taking steps to reduce your risk of developing venous insufficiency is important. A healthy diet and regular, moderate exercise can help strengthen your veins and reduce risk. Avoiding high heels, tight clothing, and long sitting or standing periods can also help. And be sure to talk to your vein doctor about any symptoms of venous insufficiency, such as leg pain, fatigue, or swelling. You can manage the condition with proper diagnosis and treatment to keep your veins strong and healthy.




Veins Specialist NYC

He leads the team of vein doctors offering the highest level of care at our Spider and Varicose Vein Treatment Center NYC.



Veins Specialists NYC

Highly sought after for his expertise and excellent outcomes in Vein Treatments in Manhattan.



Veins Specialists NYC

She has extensive experience with vein performing procedures based on New York City.


Dr. Caroline Novak

Veins Specialists NYC

She is an Internal Medicine and Vein Disease specialist with experience in minimally invasive treatments at our Long Island clinic.


Learn more about our clinics, doctors and procedures!

YouTube video

Contact us


Call us

Speak instantly with one of our team members; they will answer any questions you may have regarding insurance coverage, booking an appointment and our vein treatment locations. (646) 859-1833


Book online

Visit our Book Appointment page and instantly request an appointment at the New York vein center near you. We offer Free Insurance Verification before your appointment.


Get directions

Learn how to easily get to the New York vein center.

Get the Results You Want with Our Vein Treatments

Get the Results You Want with Our Vein Treatments

Get the Results You Want with Our Vein Treatments ​If you're dealing with varicose veins or spider veins, you're not alone. Fortunately, New York Vein Treatment is here to help you achieve the results you want with our minimally invasive vein treatments. Led by...

read more
Sclerotherapy: Spider Vein Treatment That Works

Sclerotherapy: Spider Vein Treatment That Works

Sclerotherapy: Spider Vein Treatment That Works ​Are you tired of those unsightly spider veins that seem to appear out of nowhere on your legs, making you self-conscious about wearing shorts or skirts? Spider veins, those small, red, blue, or purple veins that often...

read more
The Best Vein Treatment in New York City

The Best Vein Treatment in New York City

The Best Vein Treatment in New York City ​If you're dealing with the discomfort and unsightly appearance of varicose and spider veins, you're not alone. Millions of people in New York City and around the world are affected by these vein issues. Let's explore the best...

read more