Varicose veins are swollen veins that form when an abnormal amount of blood pools inside the venous system. They typically develop in the legs, where blood circulation is already more strained because it has to work against your natural body weight. Varicose veins can sometimes twist together, bulge out and cause pain. Very small varicose veins that do not protrude but may cause discoloration and tree-branch like lines on the face, hands, legs and ankles are called spider veins. Spider veins can be treated with some of the same methods used to remove varicose veins.
In normal veins, one-way blood valves direct blood toward the heart. But in varicose veins, these valves are either weak or dysfunctional, which allows blood to collect inside of the vein, causing the vein to enlarge. The condition is quite common, in fact, especially as you age. Older people become more at risk of developing varicose veins because they naturally develop poorer circulation. Walls of the blood vessels weaken, and the valves inside the veins are less likely to work properly. Others at higher risk of developing primary varicose veins include those who are pregnant, obese, defected at birth or prone to blood clots. To reduce the risk of developing or worsening varicose veins, it is a good idea to stay physically active and avoid standing or sitting for too long without breaks.
Varicose veins can sometimes twist together and cause pain. Usually varicose veins will cause a feeling of fullness, aching and heaviness. Your ankles may swell up slightly and the skin will appear discolored. You may see enlarged varicose veins, though it is not always severe. In rare but more serious instances varicose veins bulge past the skin’s surface and appear as darkly colored, ropey protrusions that cause painful skin ulcers.
If you think you may be affected by varicose veins or spider veins, then it is recommended that you see a physician at a vein center. Using a physical exam, ultrasound or an angiogram, the vein doctor may diagnose you with certain vein conditions and start you on appropriate treatment. The most common type of treatment for mild to moderate varicose veins is sclerotherapy, chemical injections meant to eliminate the damaged vein. Larger varicose veins causing medical symptoms may be removed with endovenous laser ablation, radiofrequency ablation or surgery. If spider veins are too small to be treated with sclerotherapy, there are other options as well, such as surface lasers and light therapy.
It is important to seek out treatment for varicose veins and spider veins because the conditions tend to worsen over time. If left unattended for too long, varicose veins can turn into venous diseases such as chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), which is a progressive condition that may be more detrimental to your health. Complications of varicose veins include the formation of skin ulcers and the rupture and inflammation of the venous tissue.
If you have a history of varicose veins in your family or notice symptoms, try making an appointment with a local vein center. The physicians at the local vein center are more than happy to evaluate, treat, diagnose and manage your varicose vein symptoms from start to finish. Although natural vein treatment with exercise may be useful, it is not always effective. So consult a professional about what to do with your spider veins and varicose veins. You can find a vein center near you be referring to the DoctorQA medical directory.