Get A Leg Up On Varicose Veins and Spider Veins

What are varicose veins and spider veins?

Varicose veins are enlarged veins that can be blue, red or flesh-colored. More severe varicose veins often look like bulging cords. Varicose veins are often found on the thighs, backs of the calves or the inside of the leg.

Spider veins are like varicose veins but smaller and closer to the surface of the skin. Often, they are red or blue and can look like tree branches or spider webs with their short, jagged lines. They can be found on the legs and face and can cover either a very small or very large area of skin.

What causes varicose veins and spider veins?

Varicose veins can be caused by weak or damaged valves in the veins. The heart pumps blood to the whole body through the arteries. Veins then carry blood from the body back to the heart. As your leg muscles squeeze, they push blood back to the heart from your lower body against gravity. Veins have valves that act as one-way flaps to prevent blood from flowing backwards as it moves up your legs. If the valves become weak, blood can leak back into the veins and collect there. When backed-up blood makes the veins bigger, they can become varicose veins.

Spider veins can be caused by the backup of blood. They can also be caused by hormone changes, exposure to the sun and injuries.

How common are abnormal leg veins?

Eighty million people suffer from varicose veins. About 50 to 55 percent of women and 40 to 45 percent of men in the United States suffer from some type of vein problem. Varicose veins affect half of people 50 years and older.

What factors increase my risk of varicose veins and spider veins?

Many factors increase a person’s chances of developing varicose or spider veins. These include:

  • Heredity
  • Aging
  • Prolonged standing
  • Pregnancy or weight gain
  • Leg injury or trauma
  • Sun exposure

Why do varicose veins and spider veins usually appear in the legs?

Most varicose and spider veins appear in the legs because they are designed to carry blood upwards against gravity back to the heart. The pressure of body weight and the force of gravity gives legs the toughest job of carrying blood back to the heart.

What are the signs of varicose veins?

Varicose veins can often be seen on the skin. Some other common symptoms of varicose veins in the legs include:

  • Leg aching
  • Heaviness
  • Muscle cramping
  • Leg fatigue
  • Restless Legs Syndrome
  • Ankle swelling
  • Itching and burning
  • Skin discoloration

Are varicose veins and spider veins dangerous?

Spider veins rarely are a serious health problem, but they can be a sign of blood backup deeper inside that you can’t see on the skin. If so, you could have the same symptoms you would have with varicose veins.

Varicose veins may not cause any problems, or they may cause aching pain, throbbing, and discomfort. In some cases, varicose veins can lead to more serious health problems. These include:

  • Sores or skin ulcers
  • Bleeding
  • Superficial thrombophlebitis (a blood clot that forms in a vein just below the skin)
  • Deep vein thrombosis( a blood clot in a deeper vein)

Should I see a doctor about varicose veins?

You should see a doctor about varicose veins if:

  • The vein has become swollen, red, tender or warm to the touch
  • There are sores or a rash on the leg or near the ankle
  • The skin on the ankle and calf becomes thick and changes color
  • One of the varicose veins begins to bleed
  • Symptoms are interfering with daily activities
  • Veins arecausing you distress and embarrassment
  • Veins are compromising your lifestyle

If you’re having pain, even if it’s just a dull ache, call Physicians Vein Clinics toll-free at (800) VEIN-DOC for a free screening.

How are varicose veins diagnosed?

Dr. Hansen provides a free screening to all patients seeking help for vein issues. He will look at your legs while you’re standing or sitting with your legs dangling. He will ask you about your symptoms, including any pain you’re having. You will have an ultrasound to check out the extent of the problem and to rule out other disorders.

Will insurance cover the costs of vein treatments?

Insurance coverage varies between patients, depending on the insurance company and the severity of the vein issues. Physicians Vein Clinics can help determine whether or not insurance will cover your vein problems during the screening and before any treatment plan begins.

How can I prevent varicose veins and spider veins?

Not all varicose and spider veins can be prevented. But, there are some steps you can take to reduce your chances of getting new varicose and spider veins. These same things can help ease discomfort from the ones you already have:

  • Wear sunscreen
  • Exercise regularly
  • Control your weight
  • Don’t cross your legs for long times when sitting
  • Elevate your legs when resting as much as possible
  • Don’t stand or sit for long periods of time
  • Wear elastic support stockings
  • Avoid tight clothing that constricts your waist, groin or legs
  • Avoid wearing high heels for long periods of time
  • Eat a low-salt diet rich in high-fiber

Can varicose and spider veins return even after treatment?

Current treatments for varicose veins and spider veins have very high success rates compared to traditional surgical treatments. Over a period of years, however, more abnormal veins can develop because there is no cure for weak vein valves.

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