Thread (spider) veins vs. Varicose veins – what’s the difference?
Do you know the difference between spider veins and varicose veins? In order to work properly and move blood around the body effectively, veins are equipped with valves that help our blood flow in the correct direction, but when those valves fail, thread veins and varicose veins can form. While both types of veins are almost always harmless, if you’d like to remove them, the first step is to get to grips with what’s going on beneath the surface and understand which category of veins you’re dealing with.
What are thread veins?
Thread veins, also commonly referred to as spider veins, can be caused by several factors including genetics, hormones, cuts, exposure to sunlight and weight gain. They form when typical blood circulation processes are interrupted. When veins become weak and blood flow is prevented, some of the blood can get stuck, causing a build-up of pressure which causes the vein to dilate. This results in the appearance of more prominent varicose veins or thread veins which are smaller and closer to the skin’s surface. Thread veins can appear anywhere on your face or body, but they are particularly common on the legs, face, hands and upper body. They are very small and appear as a network of thin, red, purple, or blue lines in a localised region.
What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are thicker than thread veins and can be painful or uncomfortable. Superficial veins that lie close to the skin’s surface carry less blood than deep veins and play an essential part in cooling the body. These veins become varicose when their valves stop functioning correctly, causing blood to pool and the vein to become large and swollen. They usually appear on the legs and are blue, green, or purple, with a torturous, raised pattern. They can become itchy, cause discomfort when walking, and may also be painful.
Are thread or varicose veins dangerous?
While they may make some people feel self-conscious, the good thing about spider veins is that they’re not harmful to physical health. However, spider veins can occasionally arise because of another medical condition like rosacea that may benefit from treatment. In some cases, varicose veins can cause venous ulcers to develop, which cause chronic leg wounds and can be very painful.
What is the best way to treat them?
The primary way that spider veins are treated is by closing off the vein so that it collapses and the blood flow stops completely. Spider veins are superficial veins, so other healthy veins just take over their circulation duties. The most common way to treat thread veins is with sclerotherapy, which involves small injections that force the veins to collapse and close off. The treatment is virtually painless and will quickly fade the treated veins. Sclerotherapy isn’t suitable for treating veins on the face, however, so in this case, we will target the area with Thermavein. This is a thermo-coagulation treatment that works by delivering a high-frequency pulse of energy that seals the thread vein walls, obliterating the vein so that it is no longer visible.
Varicose veins require a very different treatment approach, but options have improved over recent years. While you once had no option but to have the veins surgically removed, varicose veins can now be targeted using a laser which removes them without cutting into the body. The laser works to collapse the vein’s walls to eradicate the whole vein all the way down to its deep vein source.
Is it possible to prevent thread and varicose veins?
Often the result of genetics, it can be hard to prevent these veins from forming, but certain things can be done to reduce the likeliness of developing them. These include a healthy diet consisting of plenty of fibre and minimal salt, exercising, lymphatic drainage, and avoiding standing for long periods.
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Disclaimer: Please be aware that results and benefits may vary from patient to patient taking into consideration factors such as age, lifestyle and medical history.