Superficial Veins vs. Deep Veins: Two Different Venous Paths

Written By Center for Vein Restoration
Blog Image Superficial Veins Deep Veins

Within the complex network of blood vessels that make up the human circulatory system, there are two main types of veins: superficial veins and deep veins. Despite their shared purpose of collecting oxygen-poor blood and returning it to the heart, they differ significantly in their location, function, and importance. In this blog, we will explore the distinctions, emphasizing what one can do to maintain optimal vascular health.

Veins: The Unsung Heroes of the Circulatory System

First, let's delve into the crucial role played by one of the circulatory system's heroes: the veins. Veins are the blood vessels that carry deoxygenated blood from the body's tissues back to the heart. While deeper veins run through the muscles, superficial veins are often visible and close to the body's surface. They carry blood from tissues near the skin's surface to deep veins.

According to Harvard Health, while the heart pumps blood throughout the body via arteries, thousands of miles of hard-working veins funnel oxygen-depleted blood away from the organs and extremities so the respiratory system can reoxygenate it before being pumped out again.

Working alongside arteries and capillaries, here's what veins do:

  1. Return Blood to the Heart: Veins carry blood back to the heart. After oxygen and nutrients are delivered to tissues by arteries, veins collect the deoxygenated blood and waste products and transport them back to the heart.
  2. Reservoir: Veins act as blood reservoirs. They can expand and contract to accommodate changes in blood volume, helping to regulate blood pressure and maintain stable circulation.
  3. Transport Waste Products: Along with deoxygenated blood, veins transport waste products generated by cells, such as carbon dioxide, back to the heart and lungs for removal from the body.
  4. Temperature Regulation: Veins near the surface of the skin can help regulate body temperature by either releasing or conserving heat. When the body needs to cool down, blood vessels near the skin dilate, allowing heat to escape through the skin's surface.
  1. Valve Function: Veins contain valves that help prevent blood from flowing backward. These valves ensure that blood moves in one direction, toward the heart. This mechanism is crucial, especially in the lower limbs, where gravity can work against blood flow.

The failure of valves to function correctly, known as venous reflux disease (VRD), can result in several complications, including:

  • Venous Insufficiency: Venous insufficiency occurs when valves fail to prevent blood from flowing backward. This can lead to blood pooling in the affected veins, especially in the lower extremities. Symptoms may include swelling, aching, heaviness, and leg discomfort.
  • Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI): Severe and prolonged venous insufficiency can lead to chronic venous insufficiency. This progressive condition is characterized by skin changes, such as thickening, discoloration, and ulcers, particularly around the ankles. CVI can significantly impact a person's quality of life and may require long-term management.
  • Varicose Veins: Failure of valves in superficial veins can lead to varicose veins. These swollen, distorted veins often appear blue or dark purple just under the skin. They can cause symptoms such as pain, throbbing, itching, and feelings of heaviness and aching in the affected area.
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT): In deep veins, valve failure can contribute to the formation of blood clots, a condition known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DVT can cause pain, cramping, swelling, warmth, and reddish-purple skin in the affected leg. If a blood clot dislodges and travels to the lungs, it can cause a life-threatening condition known as pulmonary embolism (PE).
  • Pulmonary Embolism (PE): A pulmonary embolism can occur in cases of DVT, where a blood clot breaks loose and travels to the lungs. This medical emergency can be life-threatening, causing symptoms such as sudden shortness of breath, chest pain, rapid heart rate, and coughing up blood.

It's essential to seek medical attention if you experience any symptoms suggestive of venous insufficiency (that can lead to problematic chronic venous insufficiency) or DVT blood clots. Depending on the severity and underlying cause of the condition, treatment options may include lifestyle changes, compression therapy, and minimally invasive treatments.

Center for Vein Restoration (CVR) is a nationally recognized leader in treating the symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency, including varicose veins and spider veins. It offers a variety of nearly pain-free treatment options to eliminate unsightly and uncomfortable veins using state-of-the-art vein techniques delivered compassionately and affordably.

CVR has 120+ locations nationwide and accepts major insurances, including Aetna, Amerigroup, Anthem, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Cigna, MultiPlan, Medicaid, Medicare, and more.

Call 240-965-3915 to speak to a Patient Services Representative to discuss your insurance options and to schedule a vein care appointment near you. You can also schedule online HERE.

Superficial Veins: The Venous Network We Can See

Have you ever noticed the web of blue-green lines just under your skin, especially on your legs and arms? Those are your superficial veins, which play an essential role in your circulatory system. Superficial veins are appropriately named because they lie close to the skin's surface, unlike their deeper counterparts, which lie closer to the top layer of the skin.

Two main superficial veins in the lower limbs are:

  • Great Saphenous Vein (GSV): According to the National Library of Medicine (NIH), the GSV is the longest vein in the body, running from the foot to the femoral triangle in the upper thigh, and is one of the clinically significant superficial veins of the lower limb.
  • Small Saphenous (SSV): Smaller than GSV, it transports blood to the lateral leg surface and popliteal vein.

If left untreated, venous disease can lead to painful, visible varicose veins, itching, aching, heaviness, skin changes, ulcers that don't heal, and deep vein thrombosis.

Don't let problem veins ruin your quality of life. Schedule your vein consultation today! Call 240-965-3915 to speak with a friendly representative or book online at a CVR near you.

Deep Veins: The Venous Network We Cannot See

While the superficial veins on our limbs are easily visible under the skin, the deep veins that comprise the bulk of our venous system are hidden from view. Carrying 90 percent of the blood out of the legs and back toward the heart per Cleveland Clinic, this network of larger veins, hidden deep within the muscles, transports most deoxygenated blood back to the heart.

The largest deep veins in the legs are the femoral and popliteal veins. The femoral vein collects blood from the lower extremities and runs alongside the femoral artery deep in the thigh. When it passes behind the knee, it becomes the popliteal vein. Other major deep leg veins include the anterior and posterior tibial veins in the calf.

These deep veins contain one-way valves that prevent blood from flowing backward as it moves against gravity toward the heart. Contraction of the surrounding muscles also helps pump the deoxygenated blood back to the heart's right atrium.

Don't Ignore Vein Problems. Seek Treatment for Better Vascular Health

If you are experiencing any symptoms of venous disease, such as varicose veins, leg swelling, cramping, heaviness, or pain, it's important not to ignore these issues. Seeking evaluation and treatment from a qualified vein specialist can help address the underlying causes and prevent complications from developing.

Center for Vein Restoration offers comprehensive, minimally invasive treatments for all forms of chronic venous insufficiency. With over 120 locations nationwide, highly trained vein care specialists utilize advanced techniques to eliminate problematic veins and restore healthy circulation.

CVR accepts most major insurance plans to make effective vein care affordable and accessible. Take control of your vein health and overall quality of life by scheduling a consultation at a CVR near you.

Call 240-965-3915 today or request an appointment online. Don't let vein issues disrupt your daily activities—get long-lasting relief with the nation's leader in office-based vein treatment!

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