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What are varicose/spider veins?

Today, many people commonly suffer from varicose and/or spider veins.

Varicose veins are enlarged veins that are swollen and raised above the surface of the skin which occur due to a weakening in the vein walls and valves. They can look lumpy, bulging, rope-like and/or twisted and appear dark purple or blue. Common complaints from those who suffer from varicose veins speak of tired, heavy, achy, swollen, and restless feelings in their legs. Sitting or standing in the same position for too long a period of time will often worsen their symptoms as the day progresses.

Varicose veins are usually the result of an insufficiency of the superficial venous system. They develop when the valves in the veins that allow blood to flow toward the heart stop working properly. As a result, the blood pools in the veins and causes them to get larger in diameter. These enlarged veins can be symptomatic, resulting in pain, skin discoloration, edema, and even ulceration – a condition known as chronic venous insufficiency.

They afflict an estimated 15%-25% of the adult population. In the United States, that equates to approximately 40 million people. If your varicose veins are causing you significant discomfort, or you have developed complications, you are more likely to require treatment.

It is important to note that varicose veins can be serious and may be associated with the development of one or more of the following conditions:

* Phlebitis – inflammation of the vein
* Thromboses – blood clots form in the enlarged vein
* Venous Leg Ulcers (VLU) – an advanced condition when minor trauma to an area with skin changes fails to heal. These open sores are often quite painful.

Spider veins, known also as telangiectasias, are smaller dilated superficial veins, suitably named so because they look like a spider web. As with varicose veins, they are caused by venous insufficiency – in a milder form. They can cover a great deal or only certain areas of the skin. Commonly they are seen on the thighs, calves and ankles, are near the surface of the skin, and will appear blue, red or purple. They can be isolated or associated with larger “feeder” veins. Similar to varicose veins, the contributing factors are the same for spider veins: age, heredity, gender, pregnancy, obesity, and standing professions. Typically, individuals request treatment for spider veins because of cosmetic concerns, yet others possess significant symptoms and may be associated with larger underlying varicose veins. Our specialists will perform an ultrasound to rule out chronic venous insufficiency before scheduling cosmetic treatment(s). Treatments may include topical laser, sclerotherapy (Asclera, or Sotradecol), pulsed light therapy or a combination of treatments.

Treatment for varicose and spider veins varies from one patient to another and depends on the many contributing factors associated with this disease. However, with a proper physical examination, confirmed by venous Doppler ultrasound they are typically easily revealed and isolated. Some individuals with varicose and spider veins go without treatment or therapy. If left untreated, varicose vein symptoms are rarely alleviated, normal venous flow cannot be re-established and the possibility of further complications is subsequently increased. In the case of spider veins, foregoing treatments means that more and more new spider veins will develop in addition to the existing. Varicose veins and spider veins can be treated with effective and safe in-office procedures.