Spider and Varicose Veins: What's the Difference?
Spider and varicose veins are often mentioned in the same breath, but the two differ in significant ways. Brush up on your anatomical knowledge with Local Flavor's examination of the subject.
The job of veins is clear: cycle blood back to the heart through small valves, which open to permit flow in the right direction and close to prevent is from turning back. But sometimes these valves fail, causing blood to pool, pressure to build, and veins - which have weaker walls than arteries - dilate. The malfunction of the one-way valves is know3 as venous insufficiency, and the resulting circulatory status is what causes knotty, inflamed and sometimes painful veins to emerge at the skin's surface. They crop up most often in the legs, where the vascular current must work hardest to overcome the force of gravity.
Though they stem from the same root cause and often appear in the same place, there are key differences between spider and varicose veins/ Spider veins, formally called telangiectasias for extra creepiness, are technically not veins, but rather capillaries - the small blood vessels that move blood between arteries and veins - that have dilated. Though cosmetically undesirable when inflamed, these vessels play a less important role in circulation and pose no critical threat to their host's overall health. However, varicose veins - which are visibly much larger and often darker than spider veins - occur in larger conductors that play a more important part in sending blood back to the heart. They can be particularly painful and often require treatment not merely to look good in cellophane knee sock, but to main a healthy vascular system.
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