Dealing with Varicose Veins, Thread Veins, and Spider Veins
Have you been asking yourself, "Are visible veins a sign of fitness, or are a symptom of something much more problematic for my body?" It may be the case that you have started to notice your veins more on the inner parts of your hands, arms, and legs. When you exercise, they may become even more apparent, especially on the muscles that you have been training hard. Your gym trainer may have mentioned that visible veins—also known as increased vascularity—means that your body is healthy. However, that’s not always the situation.
Have you begun to notice faint blue lines twining around your thigh? Or maybe you’re seeing large, raised, swollen blood vessels that twist and turn instead. Visible veins can become a source of deepening anxiety, especially if you’re unsure if they’re a positive or negative condition.
When Are Visible Veins a Sign of Health?
You may enjoy the appearance of your visible veins, believing they demonstrate that you are physically healthy and in shape. Or maybe you are at the other end of the spectrum and have become increasingly self-conscious about their appearance, and you're worried that they are symptoms of a serious, underlying condition.
As you exercise repeatedly, your muscles become more toned in shape, and you lose your subcutaneous fat slowly. Both of these aesthetic changes can make your veins become more evident. You may also see your veins more dramatically as you age or if you have fair or translucent skin. In these cases, such visible veins are typically healthy and just usual for your own body.
When Should I Worry About Visible Veins?
Visible veins are a symptom of ill-health if they are a result of venous reflux and blood pooling. This reflux can cause pain and other discomforts; such as itching or burning sensations and restlessness. As well as being uncomfortable, you may also be embarrassed about your legs causing you to hide them in hot weather.
Veins that are causing you pain are most likely varicose veins. Thinner thread or spider veins are not typically a sign of health problems, but they may cause some itching and cosmetic embarrassment.
What’s the Difference Between Varicose Veins, Thread Veins, and Spider Veins?
Are you one of the nearly 90% of the country who can't tell the difference between varicose veins and thread/spider veins? The simplest way to tell them apart is through their marked difference in appearances.
Varicose veins are large and often bulging veins (3mm +) that are typically a dark violet or blue colour. They mostly occur in the thighs, calves, and feet. In some cases, such swollen veins can appear twisted or lumpy. In many cases, varicose veins are harmless. However, sometimes they can become painful, uncomfortable, and may lead to complications such as sores, ulcers, and even blood clots. Varicose veins are quite serious and may need to be removed by surgery. According to statistics from the Circulation Foundation, around 50% of women in the UK suffer from varicose veins.
Alternatively, thread veins, or spider veins as they're also called, are much smaller and can be found just below the skin's surface. These thinner veins are approximately between one to three millimetres (<1-3mm) and can be found on any part of the body. The most common places spider veins occur is across the face and on legs. Both spider veins and varicose veins can rupture and bleed.
What Causes Spider Veins?
Thread veins or spider veins can be caused by any of the following factors: pregnancy hormones, genetics, overexposure to sunlight, cuts, etc. If you're feeling conscious about the appearance of web-like or broken veins on your face or on your body, it's possible to get them removed with treatment.
We highly advise that you sign up for a free consultation with a CoLaz expert who will be able to determine which treatment is best for your condition.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
During a body's cardiac cycle, blood is pumped into the lungs, and during the next cycle, it is pumped back around the rest of the body. When blood travels through the lung, it is oxygenated from the air we breathe which is then distributed accordingly. As the blood travels to the liver and kidneys, any toxins are removed from the blood.
Veins are the body’s hosepipe’s that flow from the bottom up toward your heart where there’s a small valve. When veins work well, the blood travels up and the valve closes. When it doesn’t work well, the blood gets backed up instead of moving north. When blood flows in the wrong direction because of a valve incompetence, it can collect in the veins of the legs and cause the veins to become swollen. This activity, known as venous insufficiency, can cause both spider veins and varicose veins.
Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) can be genetic, which you don't have any control over. CVI can also be caused by situations that put pressure on the veins like obesity or pregnancy as well as spending a lot of time on your feet or having a desk job where you sit all day.
When you stand for long periods of the day, gravity works to pull the blood back down toward the legs. Hence why being on your feet causes the veins to get stretched out and the valves to weaken over time. Conversely, being sat at a desk all day with a lack of movement can also cause spider veins from lack of movement.
Excess fat and pregnancy can also affect veins due to increased tissue pressure inside the abdominal cavity between organs called visceral fat. When visceral fat increases, pressure increases inside the abdomen which dilates the veins. During pregnancy, women are exposed to excess estrogen or progesterone, which tends to soften tissue and make it more flexible. Again, increased pressure makes pregnant women predisposed to veins that dilate and stretch out. After pregnancy, these visible veins will generally go away, and everything will return to normal. This vein weakening can also happen for individuals taking hormonal birth control.