Varicose Veins – Not Just a Cosmetic Issue

When you think of chronic health problems, do varicose veins come to mind? Surprisingly, vein problems are one of the biggest chronic health issues in the United States. According to the Vascular Disease Foundation, an estimated 20 to 25 million Americans have varicose veins with 15 percent of men and 25 percent of women being affected. After the age of 50, those numbers increase to 20 percent of men and 40 percent of women experiencing significant vein problems. While some of these vein problems may be strictly cosmetic, they can also be an indication of something more serious requiring the attention of a Vascular Surgeon.

What are varicose and spider veins?

While the terms “varicose” and “spider” veins are often used interchangeably, they are actually two different things. Spider veins, also known as teleangiectesias, are tiny veins just below the surface of the skin. Because of their location, spider veins are easy to see. Purple or red in appearance, spider veins typically do not cause symptoms and are a cosmetic problem easily treated at a Vein Clinic.

Varicose veins are also visible but are much larger than spider veins, usually at least an eighth of an inch wide. Varicose veins can be felt bulging under the skin and are most often found along the inside of your calf or thigh. Often varicose veins cause no symptoms or health problems and can be dealt with cosmetically. However, varicose veins can also indicate serious underlying health conditions such as chronic venous insufficiency, in which the veins in the legs malfunction, impairing circulation.

Are you at risk?

Varicose veins are a result of non-functioning vein valves. Vein valves make it possible for blood to flow from the legs to the heart, against the force of gravity. When vein valves no longer close, blood pools in the legs causing varicose veins. If left untreated, the condition can worsen causing ulcers at the ankles or even blood clots.

Age, heredity and gender are major risk factors for varicose veins. While you can’t control those factors, there are other risk factors you can control such as standing for prolonged periods of time, physical inactivity and engaging in frequent heavy lifting. Multiple pregnancies, obesity and high blood pressure have also been found to be risk factors for women.

How a Vein specialist will diagnose your problem.

Florida Vein Doctors will perform a physical examination to determine whether you have varicose veins and if so, the severity of the problem. Additional diagnostic tests, which are non-invasive and painless, include Doppler and duplex ultrasound. These tools allow your doctor to listen to blood flow, look for blood clots and determine if your vein valves are functioning properly.

Which Vein treatment might be right for you? 

A wide variety of treatments are available from simply wearing compression stockings to minimally invasive surgical treatments such as ambulatory phlebectomy, ultrasound-guided chemical ablation and laser ablation. These procedures work to remove or seal varicose veins. A consultation with your vascular surgeon will determine which treatment is most appropriate for your specific condition.