Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery in Santa Monica

About Varicose & Spider Veins

In the cosmetic world, varicose and spider veins are the targets of many treatment types. When one examines the unsightly nature of these veins, the reason for this focus is not hard to understand. Both varicose and spider veins are cosmetic eyesores, prompting people to wear clothing that covers up their legs or makeup that covers up their face. Rather than covering these veins up, Dr. Raffy Karamanoukian prefers to focus on eliminating them altogether. He is board certified in phlebology, which is the study of veins and their anatomy, physiology and diseases. In other words, he is a vein specialist, allowing him to deliver among the most effective treatment of varicose veins available. Read below to learn more about these pesky vessels, as well as the procedures that can help you find relief.

What are Varicose & Spider Veins

Both varicose and spider veins are caused by blood that pools rather than flows through the veins. While there are several technical differences between the two, the primary difference is the level of severity.

Varicose veins appear as twisted, bulging, raised vessels that project outward from the skin. They may or may not be discolored. They are most frequently seen on the legs, and they may be up to 5 millimeters wide.

Spider veins, on the other hand, are much milder in their appearance. They sit just beneath the surface of the skin. They are red, purple and blue vessels that are usually seen on the legs and face. They are much smaller than varicose veins—usually no more than 1 millimeter in width. They barely project outward from the skin, and are therefore seen only as a discoloration on the skin’s surface.

How Varicose and Spider Veins Develop

Varicose veins are caused by the failure of valves within the veins. In the legs, blood flows downward towards the extremities. It then must flow back up against the force of gravity to return to the heart. While the blood is flowing against the force of gravity, tiny one-way valves prevent the blood from reversing direction. When these valves fail to do their job, blood begins to flow in the wrong direction, causing it to pool. When this occurs, the veins swell beyond their normal size. Abnormally large veins caused by this pooling blood can become varicose.

Spider veins are a much milder version of this. They are also caused by the backup of blood, but may also be caused by hormone changes, sun exposure or injuries.

About Spider Veins

Do Varicose and Spider Veins Pose a Health Threat?

Spider veins rarely pose any health threats or complications. When left untreated, they may create an uncomfortable feeling in the legs, accompanied by burning or itching. In rare cases, they may signify deeper blood backup that’s not visible on the surface. In such a case, the symptoms may begin to identify with varicose veins.

  • Such symptoms include:
  • Aching in the legs that can be worsened by sitting or standing for long periods of time
  • Cramping in the legs
  • A heavy feeling
  • Swelling
  • Rashes
  • Skin discoloration
  • Restless legs

Varicose veins are generally benign. They may, however, lead to the symptoms listed above if not treated by a qualified vein specialist.

  • In rare cases, varicose veins may lead to more severe health concerns, including:
  • Skin ulcers due to continual pooling of blood in the veins
  • Bleeding, as the skin surface may become thin and easily punctured
  • Blood clotting just below the surface of the skin. Symptoms of this include a firm, painful and warm vein, along with swelling
  • Blood clotting deeper beneath the skin. This can cause pain in the calf, as well as redness, swelling and warmth. If these symptoms occur, it is wise to see a vein specialist to eliminate the blood clot, as the clot can cause serious complications or death if it travels to vital organs.

In most cases, patients seek treatment for the cosmetic aspects of varicose and spider veins long before they pose a health threat. If you have varicose or spider veins, it is recommended that you visit Dr. Karamanoukian for a consultation. At the very least, you will become informed about the condition, and he will be able to help you get it corrected. Please call us to set an appointment.


Dr. Karamanoukian specializes in the treatment of varicose and spider veins. He offers state of the art treatment to correct any type and severity of varicose or spider veins. These range from noninvasive sclerotherapy injections to comprehensive, minimally invasive surgeries. His patients report the best treatment for varicose and spider veins around. If you are interested in more information, please call us to ask any questions you like. We will be happy to help.