A lot of people may ask themselves, “Spider veins vs varicose veins… What is the difference?” These unsightly veins are not only a cosmetic issue, but they might also be a sign of a serious medical condition that must be treated immediately. This is why it is so important for everyone to understand some of the differences between visible blood vessels and what can be done to treat them.
Varicose Veins and Spider Veins
Many people confuse these types of blood vessels because of their similarities. They are both visible veins that nearly 50 percent of patients will develop at some point in their lifetime. The primary difference between varicose veins and spider veins is their size. Veins are typically classified as varicose veins when they become twisted and bulge past the skin. The vast majority of varicose veins develop along the calves and thighs.
Spider veins are almost identical to varicose veins, but they are generally much smaller. They also tend to develop in other areas of the body, such as one’s hands, face and chest.
What Are These Veins?
In order to understand where these veins come from, we must first take a look at the cardiovascular system as a whole. This complex system is designed to transport nutrients throughout the body using a series of valves. When something disrupts the flow of blood, the valves actually clench shut so the heart does not become damaged. If the valves become damaged, then the blood might pool in the vein. This is what causes both varicose veins and spider veins.
Spider Veins vs Varicose Veins: Common Causes
Any internal or external factors that affect your blood pressure or cardiovascular system could increase your risk of developing either of these issues. This includes your weight, changes to your hormones and your occupation. Older patients who have recently gone through a hormonal change, such as a pregnancy or menopause, are the most likely to experience visible veins. Recent research has also found that one’s genetics most likely play a role as well.
Signs and Symptoms
While visible veins are the easiest way to identify these two issues, many patients begin experiencing symptoms well before the veins can be seen. The most common symptom is a dull throbbing in a patient’s legs. Many people also experience a tingling or burning sensation near the damaged veins and valves. Those who notice any skin discoloration on either of their legs might want to be tested for varicose veins as well.
The first thing patients need to do is start making lifestyle changes. This includes staying at a healthy weight, eating well and exercising for 150 minutes a week. When the veins first become apparent, compression stockings will sometimes prevent further damage. Patients who would like to treat veins that have already become visible will typically need to undergo sclerotherapy or endovenous laser ablation. The goal of both of these procedures is to weaken the veins so that they collapse and are no longer visible.
During your initial consultation with our medical professional at Vein Specialists of Pittsburgh, you will learn more about the pros and cons of each of these treatments. Contact us today to schedule an appointment at our office in Oakmont.