According to the Vein Center of Louisiana, about 30 million Americans suffer from vein problems. That is 1 in 10 people in our country! A common question we get is “What is the difference between varicose veins and spider veins?”. We will break down the difference between the two and when they should be of concern.
Veins are thin structures that run throughout our body and deliver blood back to our heart. This is a very important part of the circulatory system and without veins, our body simply would not work. Healthy veins have a one way valve that allows the blood to flow upwards towards the heart. Unfortunately, due to many different reasons, veins are sometimes unable to function properly and can cause the blood to flow backwards. This creates a pool in the vein elevating venous pressure that leads to enlarged, twisted blood vessels. These veins begin to look lumpy or even rope like, that is called a varicose vein. Even if you do not experience the more intense symptoms of varicose veins such as heaviness of the legs, swelling, itching, throbbing or muscle cramping, or achyness, varicose may present a cosmetic problem for you. To learn more about where varicose veins come from and how to get rid of them, see our blog post on that very topic!
Spider veins are simply a mild form of varicose veins. You will notice small, web-like blue, red, or purple lines close to the surface of the skin. They are called spider veins due to their appearance – it looks like a spider web or a branching tree. Spider veins can cover a small or large area and are most commonly found on the face or legs. While spider veins rarely pose a serious health threat, they are still something to keep a close eye on.
Varicose and spider veins are not always a threat to your health, but we recommend you get them checked out just to be sure. Remember that veins are the source of blood getting back to your heart, and if some is not getting there due to back flow, no matter how small of a problem it may be, it should not be disregarded. While most people are concerned with the cosmetic side effects, unhealthy veins left untreated can cause complications such as blood clots, skin discoloration, ulcers or chronic venous insufficiency. If detected early on, implementing a few life changes can have a drastic positive impact in your vein health and treatment may not even be necessary.
Keep an eye on the color and shape of varicose and spider veins and contact your doctor if you notice any changes to size and appearance. If you are interested in an evaluation or treatment options, CT Cardio offers a few different minimally invasive procedures to either destroy or remove problem veins. This allows blood to reroute through other veins. We do these procedures in the office and most require little to no recovery time. We can also guide you in some self care habits to prevent further complications. Dr. Thomas will guide you through the process of evaluating your particular situation and deciding on treatment. Contact us today for your consultation.