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How Do I Know If I Have Varicose Veins or Spider Veins?

Published on June 10, 2010

You wake up one day and there they are – seemingly huge blue or purple lines on your legs and ankles! What are they and how did they get there? They are known as varicose veins, although some people refer to them as spider veins because of the way the smaller veins branch out from the larger ones. They can and do occur in men, but they are more commonly found in women.

What causes varicose and spider veins?

What on earth causes these afflictions? You may not realize it but we all have tiny valves in our veins. These little valves push the blood toward the heart. If, for some reason, all of the blood isn’t pushed through, a backup can occur.

It is kind of like a traffic jam at rush hour.

The leftover blood builds up and causes the vein to get bigger. As it grows sometimes the smaller veins are also affected. That is where we get the name spider veins, since the little veins look like spider legs coming from the bigger veins. These unsightly veins are usually seen in either the legs or the ankles. On rare occasions they can be found elsewhere on the body.

How your every day rituals can cause varicose veins

Varicose veins are a result of standing, sitting or driving too long without taking a break and putting your feet up. Just imagine turning on the water hose out back and then fold it in half while the water is trying to get out. The hose may get bigger and bigger until it looks like it is going to explode. Then you unfold it and let the hose go back to normal. Now the hose looks and acts like it did before being folded.
Sometimes it can be difficult to determine what causes varicose veins.

Other causes of spider veins:

  • Inherited defective valves
  • Pregnancy
  • Even standing for long periods of time can cause them.

Regardless of the cause, a visit to one of our dermatologists at the Manhattan Dermatology Center will help you find out what caused your own varicose veins and allow our doctors to help you determine the best treatment for you.

At-home and professional treatment options for varicose veins

While certain things can be done at home to help improve the look of varicose veins – including using support hose or keeping your feet and legs elevated – there are also medical dermatology solutions for getting rid of varicose veins, whether they are large or small. One treatment available at our center of is called sclerotherapy. It takes about 30 minutes with a minimum of discomfort.

For more information on sclerotherapy and other possible medical treatments for varicose veins contact us at the Manhattan Dermatology Center.

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