Many people today commonly suffer from varicose and /or spider veins.
Varicose veins are enlarged rope-like veins that are swollen and raised above the surface of the skin which occur due to a weakening in the vein walls and valves. These can appear as dark purple or blue and look lumpy, twisted and/or bulging in appearance. For some patients, varicose veins present merely a cosmetic abnormality, but the majority of patients suffer from moderate to severe pain or discomfort that can affect a person’s ability to complete normal activities of daily living such as walking upstairs or prolonged standing. The presence of varicose veins are typically an indication of a further underlying condition known as chronic venous insufficiency (venous disease).
This condition develops when valves in the veins that allow blood to flow toward the heart stop working properly. As a result, blood pools in the veins and causes them to expand. These bulging veins can be symptomatic, resulting in pain, edema, skin discoloration and even ulcerations. Those who suffer from varicose veins are likely to complain of their legs feeling heavy, swollen, tired, restless and achy. Often sitting or standing in the same position for too long a period of time will worsen their symptoms as the day progresses.
Varicose veins can be serious and may be associated with the development of one or more of the following conditions:
- Phlebitis – inflammation of the vein
- Thromboses – blood clots form in the enlarged vein
- Venous Stasis Ulcers – a sore that forms when there is not proper drainage in the enlarged vein.
Spider veins, also known as telangiectasias, are smaller dilated superficial veins aptly named because they look like a spider web; they can cover a large area or only certain areas of skin. They are most commonly seen on the thighs, calves and ankles, are close to the surface of the skin, and will appear blue, purple or red. They may be isolated or associated with larger “feeder” veins. As with varicose veins, they are caused by venous insufficiency – in a milder form. Even the contributing factors are the same: age, gender, heredity, obesity, pregnancy, and standing occupations. People often seek treatment for spider veins because of cosmetic concerns. Though they typically do not cause pain or lead to other significant complications, they can be associated with larger underlying varicose veins. Our physicians will order an ultrasound to rule out chronic venous insufficiency before scheduling cosmetic treatment(s). Treatments may include sclerotherapy, topical laser or a combination of both.
Treatment for varicose and spider veins varies from one patient to another depending on many contributing factors; however, they are typically isolated and confirmed by venous Doppler ultrasound and revealed upon physical examination. Some individuals with varicose and spider veins go without treatment or therapy. Left untreated, varicose vein symptoms can rarely be alleviated, normal venous flow cannot be re-established and the possibility of further complications is increased. As for spider veins, foregoing treatments means the existing veins remain as more and more new spider veins develop. Varicose veins and spider veins can be treated with safe and effective in-office procedures.
Venous disease and varicose veins afflict upwards of 20% of the adult population – 25% of women and 15% of men. In the United States, that translates into more than 40 million Americans. If your varicose veins and spider veins are causing you significant discomfort, or you have developed complications, you are more likely to require treatment.