12 doctors weighed in:

What is the difference between poor lymphatic flow and varicose veins?

12 doctors weighed in
Dr. Devon Webster
Internal Medicine - Oncology
6 doctors agree

In brief: Lymph vs Blood

Lymph and blood flow from your limbs to your heart in different vessels.
Lymph flows in tiny vessels that can be damaged (surgery, radiation, inflammation) causing lymph to build up in tissues and swelling. Blood flows through veins which are larger and thicker. Valves keep blood from going the wrong way. When the valves don't work, blood pools and distends the veins causing varicose veins.

In brief: Lymph vs Blood

Lymph and blood flow from your limbs to your heart in different vessels.
Lymph flows in tiny vessels that can be damaged (surgery, radiation, inflammation) causing lymph to build up in tissues and swelling. Blood flows through veins which are larger and thicker. Valves keep blood from going the wrong way. When the valves don't work, blood pools and distends the veins causing varicose veins.
Dr. Devon Webster
Dr. Devon Webster
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1 comment
Dr. Ted King
I agree with Dr. Webster. Interestingly though, current research is showing that the venous damage, that occurs from chronic venous insufficiency when someone has varicose veins, can also damage lymphatics. In other words, it is nearly impossible to have swelling from varicose veins and not have some degree of lymphedema too. Thus, it is possible to treat varicose veins and still swell.
Dr. John Landi
Phlebology
2 doctors agree

In brief: Lymph/veins

The lymphatic system is completely separate from the venous system. Veins take blood back to the heart and lymphatics take lymph from all parts of the body back into the venous circulation.
Lymph is a clear, colorless fluid and can increase due to inflammation or obstruction. Both veins and lymph can cause edema and both can lead to swollen legs.

In brief: Lymph/veins

The lymphatic system is completely separate from the venous system. Veins take blood back to the heart and lymphatics take lymph from all parts of the body back into the venous circulation.
Lymph is a clear, colorless fluid and can increase due to inflammation or obstruction. Both veins and lymph can cause edema and both can lead to swollen legs.
Dr. John Landi
Dr. John Landi
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2 doctors agree

In brief: Different systems

Veins carry blood to the heart; arteries carry blood away from the heart; lymph glands carry lymphatic drainage throughout our bodies.
Lymphedema is defined as an increase in interstitial volume and swelling due to failure of lymphatic drainage in the setting of normal capillary filtration. Vein disease is called venous insufficiency or reflux and can cause swelling. Lymphedema can cause swelling.

In brief: Different systems

Veins carry blood to the heart; arteries carry blood away from the heart; lymph glands carry lymphatic drainage throughout our bodies.
Lymphedema is defined as an increase in interstitial volume and swelling due to failure of lymphatic drainage in the setting of normal capillary filtration. Vein disease is called venous insufficiency or reflux and can cause swelling. Lymphedema can cause swelling.
Dr. Nick (Donald) Morrison
Dr. Nick (Donald) Morrison
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Dr. Ted King
Phlebology

In brief: Can be related

Although they are different systems of carrying fluid in the body, they both can cause swelling, as dr. Morrison said.
Very commonly, veins and lymphatic channels travel side by side and have an intimate association with each other. As a result, venous injury will often be associated with lymphatic injury and swelling from veins will usually have a component of lymphatic swelling with it.

In brief: Can be related

Although they are different systems of carrying fluid in the body, they both can cause swelling, as dr. Morrison said.
Very commonly, veins and lymphatic channels travel side by side and have an intimate association with each other. As a result, venous injury will often be associated with lymphatic injury and swelling from veins will usually have a component of lymphatic swelling with it.
Dr. Ted King
Dr. Ted King
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