Varicose veins are swollen, dark blue or purple blood vessels that you can see and feel beneath the skin. They often look like twisted cords, and usually appear on the calves, inside of the legs, and ankles. Varicose veins form when the valves within a vein weaken and allow some blood to flow backward. The vein weakens under the additional strain and balloons outward, raising the skin surface.
Varicose veins occur more commonly in men than in women, and the risk tends to increase with age. Patients with varicose veins do not usually experience any pain from this condition, although some may develop aching, throbbing, cramping and other symptoms that may indicate a need for medical attention. While not usually of medical concern, many patients with varicose veins are bothered by their appearance and seek treatment.
Varicose veins are typically diagnosed through a physical examination of the affected area. Treatment options typically begin with conservative methods, such as losing weight, keeping the legs elevated, and wearing compression stockings. Varicose veins that remain unresponsive to the aforementioned treatment methods may require more advance forms of treatment.
Sclerotherapy treats varicose veins by injecting a solution into the veins, causing them to gradually disappear; results are often achieved within four treatment sessions. Endovenous laser therapy (EVLT) is a minimally invasive procedure that treats varicose veins by applying a laser probe to the affected area. Your doctor will determine the most appropriate treatment plan for your individual condition.
There is no definite way to prevent varicose veins from developing; however, there are certain measures that can be taken to reduce your risk of developing this condition. This may include:
- Exercising regularly
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Eating a diet high in fiber and low in salt
- Elevating the legs
- Sitting or standing up at regular intervals
Spider veins, also known as telangiectasias, are small, thin blood vessels visible beneath the skin. They commonly appear on the face or leg, in a shape similar to a spider or a spider web, in either red or blue. In most cases, spider veins are unsightly, causing no other issues. Some patients, however, may experience aching, burning, swelling, and cramping from spider veins.
Spider veins develop due to a backup of blood in certain veins, which may occur when the valves in the veins are unable to keep blood from flowing backwards as it moves up the legs. The blood then collects in the vein, eventually becoming visible under the surface of the skin. Spider veins affect about 50 percent of individuals over the age of 50 in the United States, and can occur to anyone as a result of hormonal changes, pregnancy, obesity, or sun exposure.
To diagnose spider veins, your doctor will perform a physical examination, during which he or she will inspect the affected area(s). In some cases, an ultrasound may be performed as well to identify the cause of your condition. If you do indeed have spider veins, minimally invasive treatment options are available; your doctor will determine which option is most appropriate for your specific condition.
Sclerotherapy is the standard treatment for spider veins, as well as varicose veins. During sclerotherapy, a sclerosing solution is injected into the affected veins, causing them to gradually disappear. This procedure lasts about an hour, and is usually performed in the doctor’s office. Two to four sclerotherapy sessions are typically required to fully eliminate the appearance of spider veins.
Endovenous laser treatment (EVLT), more commonly used on large spider veins, uses a catheter to pass a laser fiber directly into the vein. The laser seals off the affected veins and redirects blood flow to surrounding healthy veins. EVLT is especially effective when used to treat veins just under the surface of the skin.
To learn more about spider veins and the minimally invasive treatment options available, please call us today to schedule an appointment.