Facts About Vein Disease
How Does Vein Disease Occur?
Veins are blood vessels that return blood to the heart from the body. To counter the effects of gravity, the veins contain one-way valves which open to allow blood to flow to the heart and close to prevent the backflow of blood to the body. When the valves do not function properly or if the vein is damaged and prevents the valves from closing, blood can begin to collect in the vein and cause a variety of vein complications.
Types of Vein Disease
are small, thread-like veins that can be seen on the surface of the skin. Treatment of spider veins for cosmetic reasons is common, but it is also done when the spider veins cause significant discomfort.
Varicose veins are large, rope-like veins ranging in size from ¼ inch or larger in diameter. They are the result of the backflow of blood into the legs when the valves in the vein do not work properly causing a bulging appearance of the vein. This can occur from pregnancy, heredity, and age. Symptoms include aching pain, easy leg fatigue and leg heaviness which worsens as the day progresses. If left untreated, varicose veins can result in ulcerations which can be difficult to treat.
is used commonly for spider veins and small varicose veins. It involves injecting a small amount of sclerosing liquid into the diseased vein which acts upon the lining of the vein causing it to seal shut eliminating the vein. It is a quick procedure performed in a physician’s office and no anesthesia is required.
Phlebectomy is a type of surgical stripping of large varicose veins where multiple incisions are made to hook and remove the vein one portion at a time. Compared to the old method of vein stripping, this procedure can be performed in the physician’s office under local anesthesia and the patient is able to walk out of the office minimizing the post-surgery recovery time.
Endovenous Laser Therapy has become the alternative treatment to surgical vein stripping for varicose veins. A thin laser fiber is inserted into the diseased vein, generally through a small puncture in the leg above where the visual symptoms appear. The physician delivers laser energy through the fiber which causes the vein to close as the fiber is gradually removed. This procedure can be performed in a physician’s office in less than an hour and the patient is encouraged to walk immediately following the procedure.
- Aching, heavy legs (often worse at night and after exercise)
- Ankle swelling
- A brownish-blue shiny skin discoloration around the veins
- Skin over the vein may become dry, itchy and thin, leading to eczema (venous eczema)
- The skin may darken (stasis dermatitis), because of the waste products building up in the legs
- Minor injuries to the area may bleed more than normal and/or take a long time to heal
- Rarely, there is a large amount of bleeding from a ruptured vein
- In some people the skin above the ankle may shrink (lipodermatosclerosis) because the fat underneath the skin becomes hard.
- Restless Leg Syndrome. Restless Leg Syndrome appears to be a common overlapping clinical syndrome in patients with varicose veins and other chronic venous insufficiency.