What are varicose veins and spider veins?
Veins can bulge with pools of blood when they fail to circulate the blood properly. These visible and bulging veins, called varicose veins, are more common in the legs and thighs, but can develop anywhere in the body.Large varicose veins can be visible, bulging, palpable (can be felt by touching), long, and dilated (greater than 4 millimeters in diameter).Small “spider veins” also can appear on the skin’s surface. These may look like short, fine lines, “starburst” clusters, or a web-like maze. They are typically not palpable. Spider veins are most common in the thighs, ankles, and feet. They may also appear on the face. The medical term for them spider veins is telangiectasias.
Who gets varicose and spider veins?
Varicose and spider veins can occur in men or women of any age, but most frequently affect women in the childbearing years and older people. Varicose veins are very common. Some estimates suggest that about 10%-15% of men and 20%-25% of women suffer from varicose veins.
A family history of varicose veins and older age increase one’s tendency to develop varicose and spider veins.Other risk factors include:a sedentary lifestyle, weight gain, prolonged standing, and pregnancy.
What causes varicose and spider veins?
The causes of varicose and spider veins are not entirely understood. In some instances, the absence or weakness of valves in the veins may cause the poor venous circulation (blood flow in the veins) and lead to varicose veins. Valves inside veins normally act to ensure that blood in the veins does not go the wrong direction (or backwards) away from the large (deep) veins and the heart. They are mainly located in the perforating and some deep veins.In other cases, weaknesses in the vein walls may cause the pooling of the blood. The walls of the blood vessels can become weaker and less competent than normal, causing the volume of blood in the veins to increase, leading to varicose veins.Less commonly, varicose veins are caused by such diseases as:phlebitis (inflammation of the veins), blood clots or any obstruction to blood flow in the veins, or congenital abnormalities of the veins. Venous disease (disease of the veins) is generally progressive and may not be prevented entirely. However, in some cases, wearing support hosiery and maintaining normal weight and regular exercise may be beneficial.