Varicose veins (and spider veins) are abnormal vein conditions that occur when the valves within the vein become weak or damaged. Veins are responsible for carrying blood from the body back to the heart. But when a valve becomes weakened, the vein is sometimes unable to perform this function properly. This can cause venous insufficiency, where the blood leaks back into the vein and pools up, resulting in swelling, bulging or a twisted vein that is either blue, red or flesh colored. A spider vein is very similar to the varicose type, but smaller. Also, spider veins tend to develop closer to the skin’s surface and carry the appearance of a spider web or tree branch with shorter more jagged lines. Varicose or spider veins can appear anywhere on the body, but are more common in lower areas like the abdomen and legs. This is because the veins in the lower part of the body flow uphill, necessitating healthy and well-functioning valves to make sure the blood gets pumped properly back into the heart.
Blue veins (also known as reticular and feeder veins or intradermal varices) are venous blood vessels that are bluish or greenish in color and are stretched out beneath the surface of the skin. Blue veins are bigger in size than spider veins. However, they are not as big as those of the varicose variety. Normally ranging from 1-3mm in diameter, they are generally flatter and less tortuous than a varicose vein (which tends to be more bulged and swollen). These blue blood vessels are most often found on the knees and thighs, and sometimes can be viewed on the face. A blue vein may also be referred to as a feeder vein, because it can become the “feeder” that aids in the development of other vein conditions. For those in the greater Jacksonville area that suffer from blue veins, this condition can be very painful and uncomfortable, as well as unsightly.
Spider Veins (also known as telangiectasias) are a confluence of dilated blood vessels within the skin that are smaller than 1 millimeter in diameter. Compared to a varicose vein, a spider vein is much smaller and tends to appear nearer to the skin’s surface. Telangiectasias (spider veins) can show up almost any place on the body, but are most commonly found on legs within various parts of the thigh, calf and ankles.
Spider veins develop when weakened valves diminish the vein’s ability to perform its essential function of regulating blood flow to the heart. When this happens, swelling and bulging can occur, causing the veins to pool up with blood. In the case of spider veins, their appearance resembles that of a spider web or tree branch, with broken up capillaries producing short and jagged lines.
Pelvic varicose veins and labial varicose veins are forms of venous insufficiency by which women’s pelvic, labial, or vulvar veins become enlarged and dilated during pregnancy and continue after the baby has been delivered. Varicose veins during pregnancy is also closely associated with Pelvic Congestion Syndrome, which is chronic pelvic pain resulting from varicose veins in the pelvis or vagina. Some estimates indicate that around 30% of all pregnant women will end up with varicose veins during pregnancy. While all pregnant women are susceptible, this condition is most common with women ages 20-45 who have multiple pregnancies. Pelvic varicose veins typically start to develop around the fifth month of pregnancy, but are normally not treated until after the baby is born. Vulvar veins (varicose veins around the vagina) most often develop later in the pregnancy.
Did You Know?
It is estimated that nearly 25% of the world’s population (mostly adults) suffer from some type of vein problems. These vein issues can range from very minor conditions like chronic venous insufficiency to more rare and life threatening conditions like venous thrombosis.
First Coast Sunshine and Vein Issues
When it comes to vein problems, Jacksonville residents should be aware that people who live in warmer climates with higher amounts of exposure to the sun, like we have here in Florida, have a higher risk of developing vein issues because of the strength of the sun’s ultraviolet rays on the skin. St. Johns Vein Center Jacksonville was created to address the needs of Floridians who are suffering from various types of venous insufficiency conditions.