Varicose Veins vs. Deep Vein Thrombosis

02 Jul, 2024

At National Vascular Associates, we often encounter patients confused about varicose veins and deep vein thrombosis. While both conditions affect veins and can cause discomfort, their causes, symptoms, and treatments are distinct. Read below to learn more about these differences and to understand your vascular health better.


What Is a Varicose Vein?

Varicose veins are large, twisted veins that are visible under the surface of the skin. They occur most often in the legs but can appear in other parts of the body and they develop when the valves in the veins become weak or damaged. This can cause the blood to pool inside the veins and makes them swollen and painful. Varicose veins are primarily caused by prolonged standing or sitting, obesity, pregnancy, and genetic factors. These conditions put pressure on the veins, leading to the malfunctioning of the valves.

Understanding Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, is a condition where blood clots form inside a deep vein, usually in the legs. Unlike varicose veins, DVT can have life-threatening complications. DVT can be caused by prolonged immobility, such as long flights or bed rest, surgery, trauma, cancer, and certain genetic disorders. These factors increase the risk of blood clot formation in the deep veins. Symptoms of DVT include swelling, pain, redness, and warmth in the affected leg. However, DVT can also be asymptomatic, making it more dangerous as it can go undetected until a complication arises.

Diagnosing Varicose Veins and DVT

Accurate diagnosis is essential for both varicose veins and DVT to ensure appropriate treatment. A vascular doctor uses various diagnostic tools and techniques to identify these conditions. To diagnose varicose veins, a vascular specialist may perform an exam and use imaging techniques such as ultrasound. Ultrasound helps visualize the blood flow and detect any abnormalities in the veins. For DVT, a doctor may use a combination of physical examination, blood tests, and imaging techniques like duplex ultrasound or venography. These methods help locate the blood clot and assess its severity.

Treatment Options for Varicose Veins and DVT

Treatment options for varicose veins include compression socks, lifestyle changes, sclerotherapy, laser treatments, and surgical interventions. A vascular specialist will recommend the most suitable vascular treatment based on the patient’s condition. DVT treatment will focus on preventing the clot from growing and breaking loose. Common treatments include anticoagulants, thrombolytics, compression stockings, and, in severe circumstances, a surgical procedure may be recommended to remove the clot.

Prevention and Management

Preventing and managing varicose veins and DVT involves healthy lifestyle choices and following medical advice. To prevent varicose veins, it is important for patients to maintain a healthy weight, to exercise regularly, and to avoid prolonged standing or sitting. DVT prevention strategies include staying active, especially during long periods of immobility, wearing compression stockings during travel, staying hydrated, and following medical advice for any underlying health conditions.

Are You Concerned About Your Vascular Health?

Understanding the differences between varicose veins and deep vein thrombosis is vital for effective vascular treatment. Choosing National Vascular Associates for your vascular care ensures that you receive the highest standard of medical expertise and personalized treatment plans. Our doctors are committed to offering compassionate care and advanced treatment options for all vascular conditions. Your vascular health is our priority, and we strive to help you achieve the best possible outcomes. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with a vascular doctor near you.

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