Vein disease in the legs is one of the most common medical conditions. Vein disease appears in 15%–20% of all adults and about half of people over 50 have varicose or spider veins.
Veins are the blood vessels that return blood from the rest of the body to the heart. The heart is high up in the body, so it has to work against gravity to push blood back up from the legs. Veins help the heart with one-way valves that open to allow blood to flow upward when the heart pumps, then close to prevent blood from flowing back down to the legs (called “reflux”). When these valves don’t work, or if the vein is damaged so the valves don’t close completely, blood can pool in the vein. This pooling causes vein disease, which can present as either spider veins or varicose veins:
Spider veins are small, thread-like colored veins seen just under the surface of the skin. Many people want spider veins removed for a better appearance, but spider veins can also cause a lot of discomfort.
Varicose veins are large, rope-like veins. They’re often a quarter inch thick or even thicker. Varicose veins generally get larger over time and can cause a lot of pain and other problems if you don’t have them treated.
Sometimes a diseased vein may be deeper and not visible through the skin but it can still cause other signs. Cramps, aches, burning, itching and soreness can mean you have vein disease. Tiredness or restlessness in your legs, especially in the calves, is also a sign. If you have any of these signs, your doctor has a quick, simple test to determine whether you have vein disease.
Varicose veins generally get worse over time. First you feel slight pain and restlessness in the leg with the diseased vein. If the vein is untreated, pain increases. Pain from vein disease can make it hard to walk and cause cramps when you sleep. Eventually, varicose veins can lead to open sores on the foot, blood clots and the need to remove tissue. The right treatment depends on what kind of vein disease you have and how far it’s progressed. Your doctor can explain your options to you.
Services We Offer
- Ambulatory phlebectomy – surgical removal of varicose veins with multiple tiny incisions
- Endovenous ablation – delivery localized heat through a catheter placed in the vein to close the vein
- Sclerotherapy – small amount of sclerosing liquid is injected into the vein to close it and eliminate the problem
- Surgical stripping – surgical removal of the vein
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