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Varicose Veins

Before and After - Varicose Veins When valves fail, blood that should be rising towards the heart falls downward.  If the non-functioning valves (incompetent) are in the deep veins, it is called “deep vein insufficiency.”  Patients will often have leg or ankle swelling, may have brown discoloration above the inside of the anklebone, and may (or may not) have varicose veins as well.  The primary treatment for deep venous insufficiency is prescription-grade compression stockings.  There is no current surgical or medical solution to replace or fix the faulty valves (except experimental).

When valves fail in the superficial veins, those veins tend to gradually dilate and lead to varicose veins.  Varicose veins are larger, abnormal veins close to the skin surface.  They often look like large ropes or clusters of grapes under the skin.  Superficial veins become enlarged with pools of blood when they fail to circulate blood properly.  These visible, bulging veins can usually be traced from the upper inside of the thigh – sometimes branching extensively into the calves, ankles and even into the foot.

Healthy and Diseased Vein Valves Varicose veins are common and can afflict both men and women.  Some estimates suggest that 10% – 15% of men and 20% – 25% of women suffer from varicose veins.  There is evidence to support that heredity can increase one’s tendency to develop varicose veins.  Other risks include, weight gain, prolonged standing, pregnancy, and a sedentary lifestyle.

Common symptoms include aching, cramping, itching, swelling and fatigue.  For some, varicose veins may be considered a cosmetic nuisance, but for others, they cause significant discomfort.  Potential serious health problems may be present for some patients.

Reticular Veins

Reticular veins are those deeper, darker veins that form bluish networks crisscrossing the thighs and lower legs.  They are most often noted in the outer thighs, extending into the back of the thighs and knees.  Reticular veins are also known as feeder veins. They occur as a result of a specific weakness of the vein walls and valves; as a result of the weakness, blood may begin to flow backwards, thereby causing the veins to be more pronounced. Reticular veins are quite common and may cause mild problems, such as local tenderness or burning and itching. They are usually the source of spider veins.  Removing reticular veins will help eradicate spider veins.

Advancements in science and technology have allowed a detailed analysis of the causes and effects of reticular veins.  Some conservative reports suggest that as many as 80% of individuals may have at least a few reticular veins. A common cause may be genetic; some of us may be born with weak veins.  Another cause may be hormonal imbalances.

Spider Veins

Spider veins result from an abnormal blood flow and weakening of the blood vessel wall in the affected veins. Spider veins are dilated, small blood vessels that are usually red or bluish in color.  While they are most commonly found on the legs, they can also be found on the face or other parts of the body.  Spider veins vary in size and can appear as threadlike veins that lie close to the surface of the skin.  Spider veins may make patterns resembling a spider’s web or a burst.

Spider veins can be considered primarily a cosmetic problem, but for some patients, symptoms include restless legs, aching, burning and/or cramping.  Spider veins commonly occur in women related to normal monthly hormonal fluctuations of the menstrual cycle and pregnancy.  Men can also experience spider veins contributing factors include injuries, heredity, weight gain, and sitting or standing for sustained periods.