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What Causes Skin Discoloration and What To Do About It

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Do you have brown or reddish skin discoloration on your legs, ankles, and/or feet? It is often thought that this happens due to a dermatological condition, but it may be something deeper than that. Skin discoloration on the legs, ankles, and feet may be a sign of vein disease.

Since the discoloration of skin may be related to vein disease, today we will be covering a few different things on the topic to clarify some of the following questions:

  • How does vein disease cause skin discoloration?
  • How can you fix or alleviate vein disease that causes skin discoloration?

Your Questions About Skin Discoloration: Answered

How does vein disease cause skin discoloration?

The role of veins is to carry the blood back up to your heart. If the veins in your legs are damaged or broken, that can cause blood to pool and pressure to build up in the veins. This condition is called venous insufficiency. And this results in blood leaking from the veins into the skin, causing the skin to become red, dry, itchy and irritated. This is called venous stasis dermatitis. In addition to dermatitis, when blood pools in the skin of the legs, iron in the red blood cells collects in the skin. This iron can break down into hemosiderin which appears as purple or brown discoloration.

How can you fix or alleviate skin discoloration?

Because venous stasis dermatitis and hemosiderin deposition may be directly related to issues with your veins, it is best fixed or alleviated with vein treatment. Vein treatment such as the ones offered at Vein Clinics of America target the deeper issue at hand — the venous insufficiency that led to the skin discoloration.
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Here are treatment options for vein disease and the skin discoloration that is caused by venous insufficiency.

Endovenous Laser Treatment
This form of treatment is used to treat large vein disease and large varicose veins on your legs. These veins are usually below the surface and not able to be seen without ultrasound. It is performed by your doctor inserting a small catheter into the diseased vein and using a laser to generate heat, which then causes the vein to collapse.

Sclerotherapy
Sclerotherpy is used to treat small and medium leg vein issues, mostly commonly spider and varicose veins. It is performed by your doctor injecting the damaged vein with a liquid that closes the vein.

VenaSeal
This approach to varicose vein treatment is also referred to as endovenous adhesive ablation. VenaSeal is performed by your doctor using a small catheter to put medical adhesive into your damaged vein to close that vein. This helps to redirect blood to healthy veins.

Radiofrequency Ablation
Radiofrequency ablation is used to treat large vein disease and large varicose veins on your legs. These veins are usually below the surface and not able to be seen without ultrasound. It is performed by your doctor inserting a small catheter into the diseased vein. Through this catheter, heat is delivered to collapse the vein.

Phlebectomy
This treatment works best for removing varicose veins near the surface of your skin. Phlebectomy is performed by your doctor making a number of small punctures in your skin, and through those punctures, removing the damaged vein. This approach to vein treatment typically occurs without the need for stitches.

Worried your skin discoloration means something more?

Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Satish Vayuvegula
Dr. Satish Vayuvegula is the National Medical Director at Vein Clinics of America. Certified by the American Board of Venous & Lymphatic Medicine, Dr. Satish Vayuvegula is recognized as a physician who has met rigorous standards of knowledge and extensive training in phlebology, the diagnosis and treatment of varicose vein disease and related disorders. Dr. Satish also shares his passion and expertise by serving as a board member of the American Vein and Lymphatic Society, the predominant national organization for venous and lymphatic disease.

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