Although patients often use the terms spider veins and varicose veins interchangeably, these are two separate issues that affect the health of your venous system differently. Spider veins and varicose veins are similar in that they are both unsightly AND easily treatable.
Varicose veins are enlarged, twisted, dilated veins that protrude above the level of the skin. Most frequently found on the legs, they often appear dark purple or blue in color and sometimes bulge out. They are typically caused by an underlying issue in the venous system, such as venous reflux (also known as venous insufficiency, which is a result of broken valves inside the veins, causing the blood to flow “backwards” in the veins. Varicose veins can lead to symptoms such as a heavy feeling in your legs, skin discoloration, swelling, and worsened pain after sitting or standing for prolonged periods of time.
There are a number of factors that can raise your risk of developing varicose veins.
- Aging causes wear and tear on the valves in your veins.
- Hormonal changes during pregnancy and menopause may also play a role in varicose veins.
- Heredity is also a factor, so if members of your family have developed varicose veins, it is likely that you will as well.
- Standing or sitting for long periods of time can also increase your risk of developing varicose veins.
Unfortunately, there is no way to completely prevent the development of varicose veins. You may reduce your risk of this condition by improving your circulation. Exercising on a regular basis, maintaining a healthy weight, and adhering to a quality diet can definitely help. It is also important to change your sitting or standing position frequently. Once you develop vein disease, it will not get better on its own – you may be able to manage the symptoms through the wearing of medical-grade compression hose and elevation, but the diseased veins themselves will never improve and symptoms will most likely increase over time.