While spider veins and varicose veins have some similarities, they also have some distinct differences. They can both make people feel self conscious and prevent you from looking your best. But there are also some important differences between the two conditions that you should be aware of.


Varicose Veins


4-5 mm in diameter

Protrude above the surface of the skin

Blue in colour

Soft and spongy to touch

Found on legs



Chronic weakness in legs

Skin changes

Ulceration (in severe cases)

Spider Veins


1mm in diameter

Less easily seen

Red or purple in colour

Flat to touch

Found on legs, neck, face

No physical symptoms aside from appearance

What are the differences?

Varicose veins are large, usually 4 to 5 millimeters in diameter, and tend to protrude above the surface of the skin. They are blue in color, taking their coloration from the deoxygenated blood that has pooled in them. They are usually soft and spongy to the touch. Varicose veins are often accompanied by unpleasant symptoms such as swelling, pain, chronic weakness or tiredness, skin changes, and ulceration. Due to these symptoms, they are classified as a medical issue.

Spider veins tend to be smaller, usually less than 1 millimeter in diameter and usually are more difficult to see than varicose veins. They are red or purple in color and appear on the legs, neck, behind the knee, among other areas. They tend to be in web-like clusters (thus the name) or in “nests” that resemble a bruise. As they have no symptoms aside from their appearance, they are considered a cosmetic issue.


What actually happens?

Both conditions are caused by “backflow” or reflux in medical terms. This means that the blood that should be flowing to the heart and lungs, is reversed and pools in the vein. Spider veins are considered a cosmetic issue as they don’t have the symptoms that are associated with varicose veins. However, symptoms can occur from spider veins, especially if they appear in the same location as varicose veins. In some cases, proper treatment of larger varicose veins must also include treatment of nearby spider veins, because a single medical pathology is creating both conditions.


Fortunately, both varicose veins and spider veins can be easily treated

There are various different treatments that can eliminate both varicose veins and spider veins. At The Vein Institute we focus on treating medical cases of varicose veins. Sclerotherapy, endovenous laser ablation, Venaseal™ “medical super glue” are all effective treatments to do this. The doctors will perform the minimally invasive procedures in the comfort of one of our offices on an outpatient basis. The procedure will only take about an hour and involve no time away from work or “recovery time”.


At The Vein Institute, we will carry out a detailed assessment of your legs and provide a tailored treatment plan for you. If varicose veins are something that you are concerned about, don’t hesitate to give us a call on (1300) 535-017 to talk to one of our Patient Liaison Managers or to book in a consultation.

About Dr Zil Yassine

Dr Zil Yassine (BA MBBS Uni. NSW, MA Harvard, Fellow (College of Phlebology UK) specialises in the non surgical treatment of varicose veins. He completed training as a Specialist General Practitioner (FRACGP 2014) in Sydney before successfully completing the American Board of Venous and Lymphatic Medicine examinations that same year. He has been a doctor for over 10 years and has performed thousands of venous interventions and gives talks on vein treatments at vascular surgeon conferences. Dr Yassine also holds the following degrees: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Surgery (UNSW), Masters of Arts (Harvard University), Diploma of Diagnostic Ultrasound in Phlebology (ACP).

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