Varicose Veins Overview
What is the Definition of Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins develop when the walls of a blood vessel weaken, allowing the vein to stretch to an abnormal shape and size. What causes the walls to weaken? Often, it’s when a valve inside the vein fails to direct blood flow correctly, resulting in excess intravenous pressure. Varicose veins are a common problem, but fortunately, there are simple solutions.
- You can spot a varicose vein by its raised or twisted shape. They’re often larger and appear more vibrantly colored than other veins, since they collect more blood.
- Who is at risk for varicose veins? Over 30% of the adult population is susceptible and females are at higher risk. Obesity, genetics, pregnancy, aging, smoking, and jobs that keep you on your feet increase your propensity for varicosities.
- Since standing and walking increase pressure on our blood vessels, varicose veins develop in the legs and pelvic region more often than other parts of the body.
- For most patients, the biggest concern is how these veins look. But varicose veins can also cause frustrating symptoms and might signify vein disease or an increased risk of pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis. Both the appearance and causation are easily treated with minimally invasive procedures at Long Island Vein Centers.
- The disease called chronic venous insufficiency often causes varicose veins, which is something our Long Island vein specialists treat.
What Are the Risk Factors for Varicose Veins?
Anyone can develop varicose veins, particularly if they run in your family. However, women are more prone to varicosities because pregnancy increases venous pressure in several ways: weight gain, increased blood volume, hormone changes, and the weight of the fetus against pelvic veins. Incidence increases with multiple pregnancies and also after menopause. For men, the main predictors besides family history are being over age 50 and sitting or standing on the job (a risk for women too).
What Symptoms Occur with Varicose Veins?
If you’re lucky, you might not notice any symptoms of varicose veins. But other patients visit LI Vein Centers with a range of uncomfortable symptoms.
- Muscle cramps, soreness, and aching in your legs
- Protruding, contorted veins beneath the skin’s surface
- Itchy skin near the veins (venous eczema or stasis dermatitis)
- Swelling in your lower extremities after standing
- Recurrent leg fatigue or heaviness
- Tingling or crawling leg sensations (Restless Legs Syndrome)
- Spider veins in close proximity to varicose veins
- Brownish or bluish discoloration on legs or feet
- Inflammation of the fat layer under the skin (Lipodermatosclerosis)
What Are the Causes of Varicose Veins?
Most commonly, varicose veins arise when you have an underlying disease called chronic venous insufficiency. This condition occurs when faulty valves in leg veins fail to keep blood flowing in a singular direction. Arteries pump blood away from the heart; veins pump it toward the heart. Leg veins must send blood only upward to prevent the backflow that causes varicosities. If a valve doesn’t fully close, that creates the pressure, pooling, or reflux (retrograde blood flow) that cause varicose veins. Less often, varicose veins form from injury to the vein or congenital abnormalities or inflammation (phlebitis) of the veins.
Treatments for Varicose Veins:
If you’re considering varicose vein treatment, you’ll be pleased to know there are several quick and gentle options. The right solution is determined by your individual vein anatomy. Your symptoms, preferences, skin changes, connections between damaged and deeper veins, and medical history determine the best course of treatment. Our LI vein doctors take a highly customized approach.
How LI Vein Centers Diagnose Varicose Veins and Select Treatment
Our North Shore and South Shore vein doctors conduct a thorough assessment of your visible symptoms and medical history to diagnose your varicose veins and any risks they present. If your doctor suspects venous insufficiency or blood clots, they’ll conduct a duplex ultrasound scan to map your vein health comprehensively. While some veins can be treated at the surface, others require a small needle or catheter to go a bit deeper to target the offending vein. Our Long Island vein doctors treat the problem, not just the symptoms, like some vein centers do. Your vein treatment is tailored to your unique condition.
Are Varicose Vein Treatments Safe?
Varicose vein treatment is dramatically safer than it was a few decades ago, thanks to new, minimally invasive therapies. Invasive surgeries are now relegated to a small number of patients, since most varicose veins are resolved with gentle, quick procedures. Choosing our board certified doctors who specialize in venous medicine greatly reduces your risk of complications. Most people are excellent candidates for Long Island Vein Center’s safe procedures.
Treatment Options Include:
- Elevating legs while sleeping and taking breaks from prolonged standing
- Wearing compression stockings to reduce swelling and pressure
- Liquid or Foam Sclerotherapy: doctors inject a sclerosant (irritant) into a varicose vein to prompt its collapse
- Thermal Ablаtіоn: doctors use radiofrequency or lasers to heat and destroy the vein, so proper blood flow resumes
- Stripping surgеrу (Phlebectomy): doctors surgically remove thе entire vаrісоѕе vеіn using hooks or wires
NOTE: The vein specialists at Long Island Vein Centers recommend Sclerotherapy or Radiofrequency Ablation for most patients.