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Understanding Vein Health

More answers, less anxiety.

Vein Disease is common.

According to the JAMA study by Marlin Schul and The American School of Epidemiology, over 48 million Americans will develop a form of vein disease at one point in their lives, and it can affect men and women of all ages.*

It's all about genetics.

A significant amount of vein disease is due to family history—it’s likely to be passed down from your parents or grandparents.

Earlier treatment, better results.

Vein disease is progressive, so the sooner you get vein disease treatment, the lesser chance of developing more symptoms.

Request a consultation with a top rated vein specialist near you.


Treat the cause of vein disease, not the symptoms.

At Vein Clinics of America (Now USA Vein Clinics), our approach is helping you understand the whole picture, and knowing the origins of vein disease is an important first step. Much of the time vein disease is genetic–if your parents or grandparents have or had varicose veins or spider veins, they’re likely to have passed them down to you.

The cause of varicose and spider veins

The direct cause of varicose veins and spider veins is unhealthy valves in your veins that allow blood to flow in the wrong direction, which leads to strained and bulging veins. Pregnancy, weight gain, and the simple effects of aging can aggravate vein disease. Other factors–such as employment that requires long periods of standing or sitting–can also worsen varicose veins symptoms over time, requiring vein disease treatment.

See the difference between healthy and unhealthy veins:

As you can see, healthy valves allow blood to flow in one direction only. When veins aren’t functioning properly, the blood flows backward, causing strain and damage, resulting in varicose veins.

See below for the definition of varicose and spider veins:

Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are large, bulging, and rope-like in appearance, are usually seen in the legs, and frequently accompanied by pain or discomfort.

Learn more about Varicose Veins

Spider Veins

Spider veins are smaller, thread-like, or tree-like in appearance, and are usually seen just under the surface of the skin in the legs and face. Similar to varicose veins, spider veins on the face, hands and limbs can be accompanied by pain.

Learn more about Spider Veins

Signs & symptoms of vein disease

The ways vein disease can affect your everyday life.

Varicose vein disease, also known as chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) is very common. It is estimated that 1 in 10 men and 1 in 3 women suffer from this disease process. Vein disease causes a spectrum of visible signs (what vein disease “looks like”) and physical symptoms (what vein disease “feels like”) in patients. Although many patients experience both the signs and symptoms of vein disease, it is not uncommon for some to experience signs but no symptoms or symptoms but not signs.

Visible signs of vein disease may include:

  • Spider veins
  • Large bulging varicose veins
  • Leg swelling
  • Skin changes such as skin discoloration, eczema, venous ulcers or open wounds. This typically occurs in more advanced stages of CVI.

Physical symptoms of vein disease may include:

  • Heavy and tired legs
  • Leg aching and pain
  • Cramping and itching
  • Leg restlessness

In addition to the signs and symptoms noted above, varicose vein disease causes patients to feel self-conscious and prevents them from living the healthy, active lives they want to live.

If you are experiencing any of these signs or symptoms, we encourage you to find a vein clinic in your city and schedule your first consultation with our team of vein experts.

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Vein disease can show up in many different forms.

When we think of varicose vein disease, most people visualize large, ropey bulging varicose or spider veins. However, chronic venous insufficiency presents in a variety of ways.

The different ways that chronic venous insufficiency presents may include:

  • At first, patients may experience swelling, maybe one or two bulging veins, or spider veins, especially around the ankles.
  • As the disease progresses and symptoms worsen, patients may experience skin changes. The skin at the ankles and lower legs will become brown or red, shiny, and will begin to peel.
  • Eventually, as the skin begins to break down, or following a local injury, a venous ulcer, or open wound, will begin to form. Although the venous ulcer may heal, it will return unless the source of the disease is treated. Although these ulcers are not typically painful, they put patients at risk for infection and require much care.


See the common risk factors for vein disease.

Vein disease is progressive and there is no cure. However, understanding signs, symptoms, and risk factors can help you seek treatment which will help slow disease progression, and improve your quality of life.

Common risk factors for vein disease include:

  • A family history of vein disease. The likelihood of developing varicose vein disease increases significantly if both parents suffer from the disease.
  • Pregnancy. Because blood volume nearly doubles during pregnancy, superficial venous valves often begin to fail. The risk of vein disease increases with 2 or more pregnancies and the disease process often includes pelvic source and vulvar varicosities.
  • Injury or surgery of the lower extremities. This can cause damage to the underlying blood vessels, leading to development of varicose veins.
  • Advanced age. Because CVI is progressive, advanced age is a risk factor for more advanced vein disease.
  • Sedentary lifestyle. Standing or sitting for long periods of time exacerbates vein disease in those predisposed to it.


The sooner the treatment, the quicker to overall better health.

So if you have one or more of the risk factors mentioned above, or are experiencing any of the signs or symptoms of vein disease, we encourage you to schedule an initial consultation with our team of experts specialized in the diagnosis and treatment of varicose vein disease.

Vein disease is progressive so the sooner you treat the underlying cause of vein disease, the more you will prevent the need for additional and extensive treatments.

Schedule a consultation

*Management of Varicose Veins and Venous Insufficiency, 2012 American Medical Association and Chronic Venous Disease in an Ethically Diverse Population, American Journal of Epidemiology.

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