Spider and varicose veins are nothing more than enlarged veins, but the reason so many women dislike them, even though they don’t pose any threat to your health, is because they are unsightly.
Spider veins, which are smaller, crop up as flat, red or purple veins, where as the larger varicose veins tend to bulge more—in some patients, they can even take on the appearance of a twisted cord inside the leg that shows through the skin. “In some cases, varicose veins may need to be treated medically because they can cause swelling and pain, a sign that the valves are not allowing blood to flow properly,” says Hunt Valley, MD, dermatologist Karen Beasley, MD.
Both spider and varicose veins are the result of genetics, pregnancy and/or hormonal changes. “Spider veins can be found anywhere on the legs and are typically grouped around the inner and outer thighs, knees and ankles. Varicose veins commonly arise from the great saphenous vein, which runs along the inside portion of the leg and/or from the short sapherious vein, which runs down the back of the calves,” says Dr. Karen Beasley. The veins in the legs have one-way valves, and any extra pressure can prevent blood from flowing properly. While there are no proven ways of preventing spider and varicose veins, wearing compression garments (especially during pregnancy and if you stand on your feet all day) can help assist blood flow and reduce pressure and swelling.