Miller Vein Blog

What’s the difference between cosmetic and medical vein problems?

What’s the difference between cosmetic and medical vein problems?

Posted by Miller Vein Team on Jan 7, 2019 3:00:00 PM


Only part of what we do as vein specialists is diagnosis and treatment—we also help our patients through education so that every person can make meaningful decisions about their own healthcare.

So, when a new patient comes in and asks us, “What’s the difference between cosmetic and medical vein problems? And, how do I know what I have?” we jump at the opportunity to help them understand the complexities of the answer in straightforward terms…

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Cosmetic vein conditions

Spider veins are considered a cosmetic condition.

Spider veins are thin, blue, purple, or red veins that appear on the skin’s surface. Spider veins are often on the legs or face, but they can appear anywhere on the body.

Related to spider veins, reticular veins (also known as feeder veins) are slightly larger but treated in the same fashion and at the same time as spider veins. Feeder veins are known as such since they “feed” blood to spider veins. Feeder veins are typically blue or green and are one to three millimeters in size. Both spider and feeder veins are considered cosmetic and most insurance carriers do not cover treatment.

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Medical vein conditions

Varicose veins are considered medical since they are caused by a medical condition called venous insufficiency.

Varicose veins are abnormally enlarged veins at the surface of the skin which may appear twisted, ropey or bulged.

Venous insufficiency (the cause of varicose veins) refers to poorly functioning or incompetent veins inside your leg that you can’t see. Varicose veins are branches coming off of this poorly functioning vein that are often visible on the surface of the skin. The good news is that these veins can be effectively and conveniently treated today with less time using minimally invasive treatment technologies.

Most insurance companies cover varicose vein treatment if the medical condition causes symptoms that limit activities of your daily life.

Other medical conditions commonly seen in a vein clinic include: deep vein thrombosis (DVT), lymphedema, and venous stasis ulcers.

How do I know what I have?

In some cases, you may be able to take an educated guess just by looking at your legs whether or not your vein troubles are cosmetic (spider veins) or medical (varicose veins or venous ulcers.) But, truth be told, the only way to know the status of your vein health is through an evaluation with a physician who specializes in veins.

Diagnosis of venous insufficiency depends on the expertise of vein specialists and their trained support staff. During a full medical evaluation at Miller Vein, our specialist examines the legs but also gets a visual of what’s going on beneath the surface. We do this using a color duplex ultrasound (“vein mapping”) of your legs. This gives us a visual of your venous anatomy, any blood clots, vein valve function, and any changes in blood flow. The results of our ultrasound, physical exam, and our in-depth conversation with you about symptoms and your personal medical history help us determine your diagnosis and our recommended approach to treatment.

Whether your condition is considered cosmetic or medical, we believe no one should suffer from physical or emotional discomfort caused by unhealthy veins. Suffering is unnecessary. Treatment is available.

Schedule your free vein evaluation at Miller Vein and take the next step towards understanding your vein health and choosing a customized treatment that meets your unique needs.

Tags: Spider Veins, venous disease, Miller Vein, Venous Stasis Ulcer, Varicose veins, Venous Insufficiency, lymphedema, women's health, men's health, dvt, restless legs, swollen legs, New Year, Self Care