Varicose veins are abnormally stretched or swollen veins that protrude from the surface of the skin in a rope-like manner. Generally found on the legs, varicose veins are the result of faulty vein valves or weak vein walls.
Leg vein problems begin when the vein valves that prevent blood from flowing in the wrong direction (reflux) become weak or malfunction. This causes blood to pool in the veins, forcing them to protrude from the skin becoming tortuous or rope-like. This increased venous pressure can lead to further failure of other vein valves and to the development of varicose veins.
Spider veins, or broken capillaries, are medically referred to as telangiectasias. They are dilated capillary veins less than 2mm in diameter that exist just below the surface of the skin on the legs or face. Spider veins are blue, red, or purplish in color with a web-like or linear appearance.