Our veins can cause a number of problems. Both in relation to our appearance and, more importantly, our health and well-being. There are essentially two types of vein which may cause issues at some time during our adult life.
As you probably know, veins return blood from your body to your heart. But this means they need to work one way only & against gravity. If the valves in our veins get weakened then the blood begins to pool and not flow properly. This is where the problems start to occur.
Varicose veins are a big problem for many women (and men too). They can completely spoil your legs and sometimes other parts of your body. Not only are they visually obvious, but they’re very hard to get rid of too. When the valve becomes defective, and the blood begins to pool & flow backwards, it pushes the vein walls outwards. Because of this unusual blood flow the veins bulge and deform.
From the outside of the skin they may look lumpy & twisted. They will probably be dark blue or purple color. The most common area for varicose veins is in the legs and feet.
Spider veins (sometimes called thread veins) are very similar to varicose veins. However they are a completely separate problem. They are capillaries which can be seen through the skin. They sometimes form a pattern similar to a spider’s web (which is where the name comes from). Unlike varicose veins they are usually completely smooth. They can also appear all over your body.
Where Are They Found?
Most commonly they are seen on the:
Can They Cause Non Cosmetic Problems?
Generally speaking spider veins just look unpleasant – they don’t cause any negative symptoms. They are mostly cosmetic. Varicose veins on the other hand can. They can cause:
- Dry or red skin.
- Legs which ache after walking.
- Slight skin discoloration.
- Minor swelling.
In extreme cases it’s possible that they can cause ulcers and blood clots. Even though this is rare, it’s important to get checked out if you notice any sudden changes in the condition.
At one time there were very few treatment options available. Your main choice was surgery. These days improvements in technology have provided less invasive alternatives. We look at some of the best treatment methods in the above articles. Briefly, here are a few of the treatment options available to you:
- Surgery – This is one of the most invasive treatment methods. It can involve stripping the veins right out of the legs or by using other methods to destroy the veins.
- Laser treatments – Lasers can treat the veins without piercing the skin. Although the treatment can be painful, it’s much safer than surgery.
- Compression stockings – Wearing stocking are one of the least invasive techniques. They compress your legs allowing blood to flow more easily.
- Sclerotherapy – This is one of the most popular methods. It involves injecting a solution into the veins causing them to gradually shrink over the coming weeks / months. Effective yet not as invasive as surgery.
- Changes in lifestyle – Sometimes chances in your day to day lifestyle like leg exercises and weight loss can help reduce the appearance of the veins.
Who Usually Gets Them?
Practically anyone can get varicose or spider veins. Men and women of any age can get them.You may think that women have trouble with veins more than men. This however is a bit of a myth – doctors will come into contact with more women for two key reasons:
- Men generally don’t like going to see the doctor!
- Women care more about showing off their legs and generally care more about their appearance.
The chances of getting them however does increase with age due to the general wear and tear that our bodies go through. They are more likely to appear after our 30s but there are other factors which can increase the changes of getting them such as being overweight, pregnancy, and always being on your feet.
Usually diagnosis will be relatively simple. Simply looking at the problem area, it should be obvious whether you have varicose / spider veins. If you’re experiencing more serious issues like pain then scans or consultation with a specialist may be required. This will be to help evaluate any potential dangers such as blood clots.