Spider veins and varicose veins are two of the most common venous disorders to impact Australians. For a large number, only one type will ever develop. But for those who suffer from both, treatment can be daunting. With cosmetic injections so seemingly easy, should spider veins be treated before varicose veins? We want to shed some light on the important reason why one should always be treated before the other!
How do vein disorders occur?
Veins are responsible for carrying oxygen-rich blood from around the body, back up to the heart. However, sometimes the vein valves, or vein walls, become damaged. This can lead to Chronic Venous Insufficiency, or CVI, which means the blood is not able to sufficiently flow.
When CVI occurs, blood begins to reflux or pool and this can either lead to the twisted, enlarged vessels you know as varicose veins. Or the smaller web-like veins, known as spider veins.
There are a few reasons why vein walls can become damaged – often it is genetics, however hormones or trauma could also contribute.
Difference between spider veins and varicose veins
Before we look at the treatment methods, it is useful to explain the difference between the two types of veins. Visually, they are easy to identify – spider veins can be flat or slightly raised and form close to the skin as wavy lines, webs or branches. They can range in colour, from purple to red. The mildest form of venous insufficiency, spider veins are typically found on the face or legs. Although they can cause some discomfort, they are painless most of the time. Spider veins are considered a cosmetic concern.
In some cases, veins are clearly varicose because they are bulging above the surface of the skin, they are discoloured and are bluish-purple colour, taking on the classic appearance of varicose veins. Some people have no symptoms whilst others experience pain, itchiness, swelling, burning or throbbing. In general, vein pain is considered vague and dull rather than sharp or immediate. Varicose veins are considered a medical concern.
Unsure if you have spider veins or varicose veins? Try our self-assessment tool.
Are varicose veins and spider veins linked?
When the vein valves are damaged, and blood has become pooled, it can break off into the smaller capillaries and cause them to expand into spider veins.
Those same damaged vein valves can also cause varicose veins to develop.
Therefore, both spider veins and varicose veins are caused by CVI. However, it is possible for one to exist without the other.
As a guide; if you have spider veins which feel painful or heavy – especially at the end of the day – it is advised that an ultrasound is performed to assess for underlying varicose veins.
Should spider veins be treated before varicose veins?
If both types of veins are present, it is very important to treat the varicose veins first.
Due to the damaged vein valves; it’s vital that the underlying problem is treated at its source. If only the spider veins are removed, the damaged vein will likely cause other spider veins to form.
For some patients, it can be tempting to treat the spider veins first, as the treatment is simple and affordable. However, it is only a temporary solution.
When varicose veins are treated, and the underlying cause is removed, some spider veins may disappear. But it is likely that additional treatment will be required. At The Vein Institute, our treatment packages consist of your recommended treatment type (EVLA, RFA or Venaseal) as well as sclerotherapy sessions to remove spider veins and medical-grade compression stockings to aid in recovery. By providing this comprehensive package, we can ensure a fantastic result and can significantly reduce the chance of reoccurrence.
Do spider veins go away?
As spider veins are considered cosmetic, it can be thought that lifestyle changes, weight loss or post-pregnancy will help them disappear. While these things can alleviate pressure on the vein valves, relieve symptoms and prevent the condition worsening, unfortunately, the veins cannot heal naturally.
If you’re looking for non-medical alternatives to relieve vein symptoms. Try this blog: Non-medical options for managing varicose veins.
Can varicose veins be left untreated?
Apart from the physical symptoms, which can impede daily life, some varicose veins could lead to other health issues. Advanced or severe varicose veins can lead to blood leaking into the tissue and skin. This can cause painful swelling, inflammation and discolouration.
Another complication that can occur is the hardening of the leg tissue, a condition known as Lipodermosclerosis. In extremely rare cases, untreated varicose veins can lead to the formation of potentially dangerous deep vein thrombosis or blood clots.
Seek expert advice
The doctors at The Vein Institute specialise in varicose vein treatment. We offer patients a comprehensive treatment program to treat varicose veins, with non-surgical laser treatment techniques. The benefits of laser treatment to patients are;
- Walk-in walk-out treatment
- 98% success rate
- Extremely effective
- Can be performed at a clinic (no hospitalisation)
- No general anaesthetic
- Medicare rebates apply
- No downtime or time away from work