Varicose veins and spider veins are swollen, twisted veins that usually appear on the legs. Women are more likely to have varicose veins and spider veins. Pregnancy, older age, and obesity can increase your risk of varicose veins and spider veins. Varicose veins and spider veins are often painless and do not usually cause health problems. If they do cause symptoms, or if you want to have them removed, talk to your doctor or nurse about treatment options.
What are spider veins?
Spider veins, or thread veins, are smaller than varicose veins. They are usually red. They may look like tree branches or spider webs. Spider veins can usually be seen under the skin, but they do not make the skin bulge out like varicose veins do.
Spider veins are usually found on the legs or the face.
Who gets varicose veins and spider veins?
Varicose veins affect almost twice as many women as men and are more common in older women.1 Spider veins may affect more than half of women.
What causes varicose veins and spider veins?
Problems in the valves in your veins can prevent blood from flowing normally and cause varicose veins or spider veins.
Your heart pumps blood filled with oxygen and nutrients through your arteries to your whole body. Veins then carry the blood from different parts of your body back to your heart. Normally, your veins have valves that act as one-way flaps. But, if the valves don’t close correctly, blood can leak back into the lower part of the vein rather than going toward the heart. Over time, more blood gets stuck in the vein, building pressure that weakens the walls of the vein. This causes the vein to grow larger.
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