Difference between Varicose and Spider Veins
Varicose and spider veins share a number of similarities. The blue and red network of spider veins and the bulging, twisting varicose veins are often a cosmetic nuisance, keeping sufferers from wearing shorts and bathing suits during the warm weather months. The conditions often occur in combination with one another, adding to the aesthetic concern. Both may be a sign of an underlying venous condition.
However, varicose veins are more likely to be accompanied by uncomfortable symptoms. Potential complications, such as blood clots and venous ulcers, also increase with varicose veins, rather than spider veins. Treatment options can also differ, although prevention techniques are often the same.
The Genetic Factor
Both varicose and spider veins have a genetic factor, which means if a family member has had the condition, you will be more likely to develop it as well. In fact, some studies suggest that as many as 80% of all varicose vein cases have a genetic link. If a parent has had varicose veins, your risk for developing the condition doubles.
Some scientists believe the genetic influence has to do with the veins themselves. Some families may be more prone to faulty valves or weak vessel walls that make the veins more prone to these conditions. If you know you have a family history of varicose or spider veins, prevention techniques may become more critical for warding off or minimizing the severity of the condition.
Other Possible Causes
There are other factors that could increase your risk of developing varicose veins, including:
- Age and gender
- Weight gain
- Hormone changes
- Prolonged periods of sitting or standing
- Injury or trauma to the leg
- Sun exposure
Prevention of varicose and spider veins begins with recognizing the potential causes for the condition so that they can be avoided as much as possible. There are also other methods that have been found effective for some in preventing or minimizing the effects of varicose and spider veins.
While spider and varicose veins cannot be prevented completely, there are steps you can take to minimize your odds of developing this condition. Some of those prevention methods include:
- Elevating legs – Keeping legs above heart level any time of the day or night can lower your risk for developing varicose veins.
- Exercising daily – A regular workout routine ensures healthy blood flow and promotes strong calf muscles to help pump blood back up to the heart efficiently.
- Maintaining body weight – Additional weight puts more pressure on the veins of the lower legs, making it more likely varicose or spider veins will develop.
- Choosing proper shoes – While you don’t have to bid farewell to your high-heeled favorites forever, wearing a combination of low and high heels throughout the week can reduce your risk for varicose veins.
- Avoiding prolonged standing or sitting – The simple act of changing position, particularly on long car rides, airplane flights or days behind a desk, can make a significant difference in your risk for varicose and spider veins.
Wearing compression stockings - If you already have risk factors for varicose veins, talk to your doctor about the use of compression stockings. These specialized socks are designed to promote healthy blood flow from the lower extremities back up to the heart.