Varicose Veins to Spider Veins: Fact vs Fiction

posted in: Varicose Veins

While varicose veins and spider veins are common conditions, there are still so many myths and misconceptions surrounding them. Most people have not been able to discern the facts from the sea of fictions which aggravates their conditions even further.

Varicose veins are large swollen blood vessels. These vessels twist and turn, creating an unsightly look. They normally develop at the back of your legs and can be seen through the skin. Spider veins and thread veins, on the other hand, are smaller. They can be seen through the skin on the face or on the legs. They appear purplish, bluish or reddish and they also twist and turn.

So its time to debunk some of the fictions surrounding these two conditions.

Varicose Veins and Spider Veins - Facts versus Fiction - Vein Solutions


Causes of Varicose Veins and Predisposing Factors


Many people believe that varicose and spider veins result from crossing of legs. The fiction says that when you cross your legs, you disrupt the free flow of blood to the legs; specifically the back part of your legs. This, in turn, can lead to the swelling of blood vessels.


While crossing your legs might disrupt blood flow to the legs, all you will feel after crossing your legs for a long time is a tingly feeling. You cannot cross your legs long enough to cause any harmful conditions. Though, crossing the legs or standing at the same place for long is not recommended.

Varicose and spider veins can be genetic; this means you develop the condition because your parents or your grandparents before you had the conditions. You can also develop the condition if your profession involves a lot of standing. Such professions include teachers, nurses, and hair stylists. Sometimes, it results from hormonal influences during pregnancy, menopause or puberty. This can also occur due to post-menopausal hormonal replacement.

Obesity is one of the common predisposing factors to varicose and spider veins. Other factors include use of birth control pills, trauma or severe injury to your skin, exposure To UV rays, previous vein surgery, and previous diagnosed blood clots.

Certain conditions that increase pressure in the abdomen including tumors and constipation can also result to varicose and spider veins.


Age and Gender vs Varicose and Spider Veins


Another misconception says that varicose veins only affect the elderly. This purports that, as we age, the blood vessels are more prone to swelling thanks to the fact that the old cells are not replaced. This is why there is a high number of seniors with the conditions.

Still another misconception says that varicose and spider veins only affect women. Again, since a high number of pregnant women will develop the condition, this misconception has the statistics to show that women are often affected by the condition.


Women have a higher chance of developing varicose and spider veins than men. There are more predisposing factors for these two conditions for women than for men. These include pregnancy, menopause, birth control pills and most professions. Plus, they also share in all the other predisposing factors. However, the conditions also affect men.

Varicose and spider veins increase in frequency with age. There is an estimated 30 to 60 percent adults have either varicose or spider veins. This, however, does not mean that the conditions do not affect the young.


Varicose Vein Treatment


Surgery is the only treatment option for those with varicose and spider veins. This is a long held belief that tends to suppose the only way to remove varicose veins for good is through invasive surgery. While this might have been true a couple of decades ago, a wide array of treatments options have come up. Vein stripping used to be a common procedure, but in modern medicine, it is no longer practiced.


Nowadays, most of the treatment options are non-invasive or minimally invasive. There are about seven major treatment options. Most of them only require a change of lifestyle and the conditions will clear.

Support stockings are some of the most conservative treatment approaches. They involve wearing fitting support hose and are ideal when the veins are painful and uncomfortable. These stockings can be below the knees or above the knees.

When you change your lifestyle, start caring for your skin, lose weight and start exercising, you will have dealt with this condition.

Sclerotherapy is another treatment option that has been used since the 1930s. It involves injecting a highly saline solution into the veins. The veins then disappear in between three and six weeks. This procedure is simple and inexpensive.

Endovenous laser is a form of treatment where a laser fiber is inserted into the swollen vein. When the laser light produces pulses, the vein collapses. Another treatment option is radiofrequency occlusion where a small catheter is inserted into the vein. When the catheter produces radiofrequency energy, the vein is heat and it collapses.

Surgery is a form of treatment that is almost being defaced. Here, there is either ligation where the vein is tied off or vein stripping where a section of the vein is cut off.


Pain Associated with Varicose Veins


Varicose and spider veins are very painful. There is a common belief that immediately you develop varicose veins, you start experiencing pain, which can at times be unbearable.


In many cases, people with varicose and spider veins do not experience pain or other symptoms. They only realize they have the condition when the swollen veins are seen on the surface of their skin. You might still want to remove varicose veins for cosmetic reasons.


Insurance Coverage and Cost of Treatment


There is a misconception that varicose and spider veins treatment is expensive and can only be afforded by a small section of the population. However, this is not the case. About 90 percent of the cases are covered by private health. The NHS has a different set of criteria and supported treatments.


When you develop varicose veins, chances are that you have an underlying venous issue and this triggers the development of this condition. Granted, the insurance will cover the underlying issues. Again, the new forms of treatment, sclerotherapy and laser therapy, have greatly reduced the cost of treatment.

This means there is no need for traditional invasive surgery, which costs a lot of money. This way, there is no need to fear from going for treatment.

Some insurance companies will cover varicose veins, but will not cover spider veins. It is, however, advisable to confirm with your insurance provider.


Are Varicose and Spider Veins the Same?


There are people who believe that varicose vein is a metamorphosed form of spider veins and they both have the same symptoms.


Spider veins are usually harmless. They are usually small, and appear coloured on the surface of the skin. These veins come as a result of poor blood circulation. You might see them cluttered on the surface of the skin, appearing like a bruise.

Varicose veins are a result of stretched out veins that form a place where blood pools. These vessels are thick and look like ropes protruding from the surface of the legs. This condition results from the malfunction of one-way valve.

It is not possible to have both varicose veins and spider veins on one leg.


Are Varicose and Spider Veins Cosmetic Problems?

There is a huge misconception that varicose and spider veins are cosmetic problems and people only get them treated because they want to look good. While experts have agreed that varicose and spider veins are not a health condition, you should not ignore them.

When left for a long time, these conditions can cause fatigue, swelling of legs, and general discomfort. They are also a sign of deep health issues such as blood clots, thrombosis, poor blood circulation and swelling legs.

When your legs start swelling, become heavy, or sore at the end of a day, you should see a doctor. This will help you identify underlying issues that might be causing the condition.


Pregnancy and Varicose AND Spider Veins

It is true that pregnancy causes increased pressure on the inferior vena cava. This is the main vein from the lower part of your body. When the fetus shifts to certain positions, it can block the flow of blood.

The production of additional hormones during pregnancy, lets the smooth muscles to relax to allow enough room for storage. This leads to increased chances of developing varicose and spider veins. Anything that adds pressure on your abdomen will lead to increased chances of developing these conditions.

There is a misconception that you can only seek treatment once you have delivered. But this is not the case. You can seek treatment the moment you realize that you have either conditions.

Unlike what the stories doing rounds might have made you to believe, when you treat varicose veins, they do not reappear. However, experts have agreed that if the predisposing factors that led to the appearance of these conditions the first time are still prevalent, the condition might reappear. When the condition is genetic, there are chances that the condition will reappear.

It is advisable to seek the help of a professional. This will help you discern the truth from misconceptions.


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