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Understanding Vein Disease: Common Disorders and How to Treat Them

October 12, 2015
healthy legs and vein disease treated

Unfortunately, vein disease doesn’t go away on its own and may only get worse over time, making future treatment more extensive. Although 45 percent of men suffer from vein disease, it is women who are most affected.

Chronic vein disease is a common disorder that affects veins of the legs. These veins carry blood from the legs to the heart. Normal veins have a series of valves that open and close to direct blood flow from the surface of the legs to the deep leg veins, from which calf muscles pump blood back to the heart. The valves also control the pressure in smaller veins on the legs’ surface.

If the valves within the veins fail to work properly, blood can flow backwards and pool in the legs. The pooled blood can increase pressure in the veins. This can cause mild problems such as leg heaviness, aching, dilated or unsightly veins. It can also cause more severe issues such as swelling, skin color changes, skin rash on the leg, recurrent skin infections and chronic ulcers. People who develop these more severe symptoms are said to have chronic venous insufficiency.

Who gets vein disease?

Vein disease affects 80 million Americans, but many of them don’t seek treatment until the pain becomes unbearable. If you have varicose or spider veins, it is likely that someone else in your family has them as well. More than 80 percent of the time the condition is genetic. This means vein disease isn’t necessarily caused by long periods of standing or crossing your legs when you sit down. Even so, long periods of standing, as well as obesity, can make it worse.

The good news is that with today’s advanced technology, vein disorders are treatable through safer and more effective techniques that don’t require surgery. Just remember that no matter what is causing your varicose veins, the experts at Vein Clinics of America will do our absolute best to help you understand and treat the problem.

How is vein disease treated?

Varicose and spider veins, hand and facial veins and deep vein thrombosis are very common disorders. Below you can learn more about these conditions and how they are treated.

Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are enlarged veins that often appear ropey and look blue or red. They also occur deeper under your skin where you are not able to see them. People who suffer from this condition often have a family history of varicose veins. They frequently affect pregnant women and those with occupations that require long periods of standing such as nurses and teachers. Aside from their unpleasant appearance, side effects of varicose veins include pain, fatigue, itching, burning, swelling, cramping, restlessness and throbbing.

Treating Varicose Veins
At Vein Clinics of America, our physicians use both endovenous laser treatment (ELT) and ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy to treat varicose veins.

Endovenous laser treatment is a minimally invasive laser treatment that requires no hospitalization and no complicated surgery. The entire procedure, from start to finish, takes about an hour and these is very little or no pain. Another advantage of treating with ELT is that most insurance plans and Medicare will cover it.

For larger varicose veins, our physicians utilize ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy. The ultrasound provides a live view of your veins, allowing physicians to inject the sclerosant into the precise location for the best treatment results. Once the vein is closed, the blood that was circulating through the abnormal vein is naturally rerouted to other healthy veins. Over time the treated vein is absorbed into the body. Varicose and spider veins can be uncomfortable and may get worse if left untreated.

Spider Veins
Spider veins are tiny, thin veins that can be seen very close to the skin’s surface. They look like red, blue or green spider webs just beneath the skin. Sometimes they are described as looking like marble. Spider veins are caused by a lack of blood. These become nonfunctional, “dead-end veins.”

Spider veins are very small varicose veins. Although they don’t usually cause discomfort, the deeper veins that often accompany them can. Many vein disease sufferers have a combination of both varicose and spider veins. While they may seek treatment for cosmetic improvement, many of our patients are also looking for relief from pain.

Treating Spider Veins
For spider veins and other small veins close to the skin’s surface, our physicians and nurses effectively treat these veins with sclerotherapy. A typical treatment may last for 15 to 20 minutes and will consist of microinjections. Once the vein is closed, the blood that was circulating through the abnormal vein is naturally rerouted to other healthy veins. Over time, the treated vein is absorbed by the body.

Hand Veins
In most cases where hand veins are visible, they are normal and healthy. They are not diseased although they can be unattractive. Many patients choose to have them treated for cosmetic reasons. It is not uncommon to develop large bulging veins on the back of hands. Generally, this happens when the skin relaxes and thins with age, causing the veins to become more noticeable and appear enlarged.

Facial Veins
Facial veins range in size from very fine red or purple veins to larger blue-green veins. The smaller veins are typically seen on the cheeks, nose, and chin. They are commonly due to rosacea and damage from sunlight. The larger veins are more commonly seen on the temples and at the edge of the jaw. They can also make circles under the eyes appear dark. Typically, none of these veins cause pain and are usually treated for cosmetic reasons.

Deep Vein Thrombosis
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is the formation of a blood clot (thrombus) within a deep vein. It mainly affects large veins that are deep inside the lower leg and thigh. DVT can be life-threatening if the clot breaks off, travels, and lodges in the lung. Veins that appear as enlarged and visible near the surface of the skin may signal this potentially serious health issue.

Many people with varicose veins experience pain, swelling, heaviness, and fatigue in their legs. In some cases, the leg veins may become inflamed and painful – a condition known as superficial phlebitis. Sometimes phlebitis can be associated with superficial vein thrombosis (SVT). A recent study published in Archives of Dermatology indicated that one in four patients with SVT also had deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Given the potentially serious health risks associated with some varicose veins, people experiencing swollen, painful veins should seek a professional consultation with a physician who specializes in vein disease. VCA’s network physicians are specially trained to diagnose and treat vein disorders and can help people avoid more serious complications.

If you suffer from varicose vein symptoms, at 844-525-0179 to schedule your consultation.

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