Varicose veins are dilated twisted veins that are visible to the naked eye. They often appear blue or purple and can occur anywhere where the veins returning blood to the heart are not strong. They are most commonly seen in the legs, since standing and walking increase the pressure on veins in the lower body. The skin above varicose veins is raised and can be felt. Varicose veins are in the group of chronic venous diseases that also include spider veins (telangiectasias) and reticular veins. It is not uncommon for people to confuse spider and reticular veins with varicose veins.
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Varicose Veins vs Spider Veins
Varicose veins differ from other chronic venous diseases in location and appearance. Like varicose veins, spider veins commonly occur in the legs. However, they may also be seen in the face. Spider veins are also much smaller than varicose veins. They can be either red or blue, and look like spider webs.
Varicose Veins vs Reticular Veins
The size of reticular veins is typically in the range between the sizes of varicose and spider veins. They often appear as bluish-green or purple in color and can be found near groups of spider veins. Reticular veins are also not raised. Reticular veins can also support spider veins and make them worse, unlike varicose veins.
What is the incidence of varicose veins?
Approximately 80 to 85% of American adults have a chronic venous disease. Over 20% of adults, or nearly 22 million women and 11 million men over 40, in the United States, have varicose veins. However, only 2 million of adults with varicose veins develop symptoms.