Veins tend to be one of those things you forget you have… until you have a problem with them!
We just accept that they’re beavering away in the background, happily completing the circulatory system by bringing the blood back to be freshened up in the heart.
While most of the time they perform this job outstandingly, anyone who’s been afflicted with varicose veins and spider veins knows that sometimes, they go wrong. But that doesn’t have to be the case!
Let us guide you through the world of veins in our varicose veins vs spider veins guide. We’ll see just what they are, and how to keep yours in tip-top condition!
Varicose Veins vs Spider Veins – What’s the Difference?
The reason most of us have heard the terms varicose veins and spider veins is because they’re the type that most often become visible.
The visibility of our veins varies from person to person. It’s possible that someone with completely healthy veins is able to see quite a few through their skin. These are usually visible on the arms, legs, and chest.
But when you’re having issues with your veins, spider and varicose veins become visible.
The Lowdown on Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are a common condition that affects around 50% of American women. It’s much more common in women than men. Although they can occur in other parts of the body, they’re most common in the legs.
The veins work with the muscles in the legs to return the blood to the heart. Over time, the intricate system of valves can break down, and the blood can collect in the veins. This leads to the unsightly and often painful condition of varicose veins.
Sufferers often have a family history of varicose veins. They are also more common in people who are overweight or have jobs that require them to be on their feet for long periods of time.
There can be potentially serious health consequences to varicose veins as well. They may bleed profusely if knocked. They can also lead to other complications, such as blood clots.
The 411 on Spider Veins
Spider veins are thin, visible veins that appear under the surface of the skin. They’re often visible on the legs and chest and sometimes appear on the face as well. They are twisted and distorted, giving them an unsightly appearance.
While they’re a cosmetic concern, they are usually not a big medical problem. They may cause mild discomfort at times, but can usually be easily treated. This is usually considered a cosmetic treatment.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Both varicose and spider veins are usually diagnosed by a physical examination by a doctor. It’s very likely that you or a family member will be the first person to spot them, as they are usually very visible.
Even if they are not causing you any discomfort, it’s good to make an appointment to have them checked out. Your doctor may suggest having a duplex ultrasound to check how your veins are performing.
This is a fascinating area of work too! It involves performing scans that help to identify circulatory issues, and serious concerns such as blood clots. Read more here about the training involved in performing vascular ultrasound exams.
Treating Varicose Veins and Spider Veins
There are various treatment options available, and they differ depending on the condition.
Your doctor will be able to advise you on the best course of treatment for varicose veins. This will depend on the severity of your case. Treatments include:
- Lifestyle changes, such as exercise and avoiding inactivity
- Weight loss
- Sclerotherapy – chemical removal of veins
- Endovenous Ablation Therapy – using heat to close off the veins
- Vein stripping – surgical removal of the veins
The most important thing is to not only improve the appearance of the veins but to prevent the possibility of long-term complications.
A technique called sclerotherapy can be helpful in treating spider veins. This involves having a medicated solution injected into the veins. In time, the veins collapse and are reabsorbed by the body.
This simple but effective treatment eliminates these unsightly veins within a few weeks.
Laser surgery is also an option but is not as effective as sclerotherapy for most patients. However, if you’re scared of needles then it might be the right option for you!
So, varicose veins vs spider veins – what’s the difference?
Well, while neither looks great, it’s varicose veins that are the bigger health concern. If you’re worried that you’re developing varicose veins, get them checked out by your doctor as soon as possible.
Maintaining Vein Health
What can we all do to keep our veins in the best condition?
As the veins work hand in glove with our muscles, maintaining good muscle tone is important. We’re not talking becoming Arnold Schwarzenegger here, just keeping active and exercising regularly.
If you have a desk job, get up and walk around regularly. This will keep the blood circulating and discourage it from pooling in the veins.
Maintaining a healthy diet and giving up habits like smoking are also key. Good nutrition allows the body to maintain the walls of the veins. Smoking has negative impacts on the blood and veins, so should be avoided.
If you’re having issues with your circulation, then compression garments may help. To be safe, check with your doctor first, to make sure that they’re right for you.
This could include wearing compression stockings. They give your body a bit of extra support to pump the blood back to the heart.
The Bottom Line: Keeping Veins Happy and Healthy
In the question of varicose veins vs spider veins, there’s a clear winner – we’d all rather have spider veins!
They’re medically less serious, easier to remove and usually fade quickly.
However, our bodies don’t usually give us an option! That being said, by maintaining a healthy lifestyle including regular exercise, they can be kept at bay.
Veins may not be the only challenge you’re facing in the skin department, but don’t worry. We’ve got stacks of awesome blogs to help you keep your skin looking young and radiant.
Click here to check out our Skin Care guides today!