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Varicose Veins & Spider Veins

Many people today commonly suffer from varicose and /or spider veins.

Varicose veins

Varicose veins are swollen veins that are rope-like and raised above the surface of the skin. These occur due to the weakening of vein walls and valves. These can appear lumpy, bulging or twisted in appearance and be dark purple or blue in color.

Some patients only experience varicose veins as a cosmetic abnormality, but the majority of individuals suffer from discomfort and pain that can range from moderate to severe. These issues can affect a person’s ability to participate in normal day-to-day activities such as standing for prolonged periods or walking up stairs. The presence of varicose veins are typically an indication of a further underlying condition known as chronic venous insufficiency (venous disease).

This condition occurs when valves in the veins that allow blood to flow toward the heart stop properly working. As a result, blood can pool in the veins and cause them to expand, resulting in bulging veins that can cause pain, skin discoloration, edema and even ulcerations. Individuals who suffer from varicose veins are likely to complain of their legs feeling restless, heavy, tired, swollen and achy. Staying in the same position for a long period of time, whether sitting or standing, can worsen their symptoms as the day progresses.

Varicose veins can be serious and might be associated with the development of one or more of the following conditions:

  • Thromboses — blood clots form in the enlarged vein
  • Phlebitis — inflammation of the vein
  • Venous Stasis Ulcers — a sore that forms when there is not proper drainage in the enlarged vein


Spider Veins

Spider veins, also referred to as telangiectasias, are smaller dilated superficial veins aptly named due to their similar appearance to spider webs. These can cover a large area or only affect certain areas of skin. They most commonly appear close to the surface of the skin on the calves, thighs and ankles, and are often blue, purple or red. Spider veins may be isolated or associated with larger “feeder” veins. They are caused by venous insufficiency, similar to varicose veins but in a milder form. The contributing factors for the two are the same: age, heredity, gender, obesity, standing occupations, and pregnancy. Spider veins do not cause pain or lead to other significant issues and most patients seek treatment due to cosmetic concerns. Though they are can be associated with larger underlying varicose veins. Our physicians will use an ultrasound to rule out the possibility of venous insufficiency before scheduling cosmetic treatment(s). These treatments may include topical laser, sclerotherapy or a combination of both.

The right treatment for varicose and spider veins vary with each individual patient due to many contributing factors. These are often isolated cases that can be confirmed by venous Doppler ultrasound and physical examination. Patients who decide to forgo treatments or therapy for varicose and spider veins can rarely be alleviated of symptoms. Normal venous flow cannot be re-established and the possibility of further complications is increased. For spider veins, going without treatment means the current veins remain as more and more new spider veins develop. Both spider veins and varicose veins can be treated with safe and effective in-office procedures.

Venous disease and varicose veins afflict nearly 20%  of the adult population — 25% of women and 15% of men. In the United States, that means more than 40 million Americans suffer from these issues. If your spider veins and varicose veins are causing you significant discomfort, or you have developed complications, you are more likely to require treatment.