Varicose Veins vs. Spider Veins: What You Need To Know

Suns out—legs out? Well, not for everyone. Despite it being hot, hot, hot, spider veins and varicose veins can make nearly anyone feel self-conscious about their legs. On top of that, spider veins and varicose veins can also be uncomfortable or even painful.

So, if you notice the bulge of varicose veins, or the bursts of spider veins, what does this mean for you? For starters, you’re not alone. Both varicose and spider veins are very common and women are nearly twice as likely as men to develop them. You’ll be happy to learn, though, that there are simple ways to reduce both the look and feel of them.

What is the difference between varicose and spider veins?

Varicose veins are caused by weakened valves in the veins, which can allow blood to leak and pool. Because blood collects, the veins become bigger and evolve into varicose veins.

Similarly, spider veins are caused by a backup of blood, as well as increased pressure in the legs.

What are common risk factors?

Because varicose and spider veins are so similar, they actually share many of the same risk factors. While some of them are out of your control, like age and gender, there are others you can work to minimize, like:

·         Hormonal changes (including pregnancy, menopause and oral contraceptives)
·         Obesity
·         Lack of movement
·         Excess sun exposure

Can daily habits cause them?

While risk factors play a major role in the likelihood of getting varicose or spider veins, it doesn’t answer the question of why some people get them and others don’t. So, could there be another cause? Turns out, there are several everyday habits that may increase your risk. These include:

·         Excess standing without breaks (this increases pressure in your legs)
·        Crossing your legs often (this spikes pressure in your legs, especially behind your  knee)
·        Sitting for extended periods of time (gravity is your worst enemy in this instance, causing blood to pool in your legs)
·         Frequently nicking your skin while shaving (this can disrupt blood flow and  circulation)
·         Not rubbing or massaging your legs (rubbing them can improve circulation)
·         Skipping muscle building exercises (with decreased muscle mass, comes extra  room for veins to dilate)
·         Eating extra salt (excess salt can spike water retention, which leads to increased  pressure)
·         Smoking (enough said)
·         Always wearing high heels (while they’re cute, they don’t allow your calves to  move and blood can’t pump effectively)

What can you do to prevent them?

Unfortunately, you can’t always prevent varicose and spider veins, but you may be able to stop them from getting worse or prevent new ones from emerging. Here’s what you can do:

·         If you must stand or sit for long periods, take frequent breaks.
·         Don't cross your legs when you sit. And when possible, raise your legs above your heart.
·         Don't wear tight clothing, especially around the waist and legs.
·         Get regular exercise and focus on activities that are good for vein health, including: walking, cycling and swimming.
·         Maintain a healthy weight by choosing lean meats, low-fat dairy products and high-fiber foods.
·         Work with your primary care provider to utilize the best prevention and treatment  techniques.

Care that goes with the flow.

The experts at GMC’s Health Park-Hamilton Mill recognize that exceptional care starts with addressing all of your health concerns, no matter how big or small. Whether you’re in need of thorough treatment for varicose and spider veins or looking for the latest in cardiac testing, GMC Health Park-Hamilton Mill can help. From cardiology and gastroenterology to orthopedics and primary care, each member of your family can receive personalized care, close to home.


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