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What is the difference between Superficial and Deep Veins?

What is the difference between superficial and deep veins?

Just as with any other body part, veins come in all shapes, sizes, and even colors.

So what is the difference between superficial and deep veins? Superficial veins are below the skin’s surface, and deep veins are beneath the layers of tissue and muscle.

Although these two sets of veins work together to pump blood throughout the body, there is a distinct difference between superficial and deep veins and the essential roles they each play in our vascular system.

Superficial veins are often visible under the skin and are typically thin and wispy. They carry blood from surrounding tissues to the deep veins.

Deep veins are thicker than superficial veins and buried throughout the most inner parts of the body below the skin. They have the important job of receiving blood from the superficial veins and pumping it to the heart.

One serious but common venous disorder that can develop in both superficial and deep veins is thrombophlebitis/thrombosis, or better known as blood clots. A blood clot forms when the vein becomes clogged, or narrows, and blood coagulates, making it difficult for it to flow properly.

When a clot forms in a deep vein, it can ultimately stop blood from making its way to the heart (clots are less worrisome in a superficial vein). Or it can lead to a serious situation called pulmonary embolus (PE), where a blood clot travels from the vein (typically in the legs) to the lungs and can cause breathing to stop, and even death. This type of deep vein clot is very serious and requires immediate medical attention to either dissolve it with medication or surgically remove it.

Those most at risk for blood clots have suffered a traumatic injury, recently undergone surgery, are pregnant, have certain types of cancer, have a family history of blood clots, or are affected by high blood pressure or cholesterol. If you fall into any of these categories, it’s a good idea to schedule regular check-ups with one of our board-certified vascular specialists at VeinSolutions Austin.

Another contributor to poor circulation and blood clots could be the current COVID-19 pandemic. Being hunkered down at home and glued to screens for endless hours have lent themselves to a more sedentary lifestyle for many. Lack of regular physical activity can often affect both superficial and deep vein health.

VeinSolutions’ board-certified vascular surgeon Dr. David Nation  notes that “tasks that would normally require walking down a hall at your office, or up a flight of stairs, may now be done from sitting in a chair in front of a computer.”

Signs of a blood clot might include pain, swelling, cramping or discoloration in the arm or leg, or unexplained shortness of breath.

He says that you can help prevent these dangerous deep vein blood clots from forming by:

  • Exercising
  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Taking blood pressure medications as directed
  • Wearing compression stockings to improve circulation
  • Avoiding tobacco products

If you have concerns about your risk for superficial or deep vein thrombosis, please visit us here to schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified specialists at VeinSolutions in Austin, or contact us at 512.452.VEIN (8346). For VeinSolutions in Georgetown, please contact us at 512-501-4287.

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Veins can be prone to a blood clot

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