Varicose Veins

Our vein specialists can help treat the twisted, enlarged veins known as varicose veins

Varicose veins are twisted, enlarged veins. Any superficial vein may become varicosed, but the veins most commonly affected are those in your legs. That's because standing and walking upright increases the pressure in the veins of your lower body.

For many people, varicose veins and spider veins — a common, mild variation of varicose veins — are simply a cosmetic concern. 

For other people, varicose veins can cause aching pain and discomfort. Sometimes varicose veins lead to more-serious problems. Treatment may involve self-care measures or procedures by your doctor to close or remove veins.

Causes

Weak or damaged valves can lead to varicose veins. Arteries carry blood from your heart to the rest of your tissues, and veins return blood from the rest of your body to your heart, so the blood can be recirculated. To return blood to your heart, the veins in your legs must work against gravity.

Muscle contractions in your lower legs act as pumps, and elastic vein walls help blood return to your heart. Tiny valves in your veins open as blood flows toward your heart then close to stop blood from flowing backward. If these valves are weak or damaged, blood can flow backward and pool in the vein, causing the veins to stretch or twist.

Certain risk factors can increase your risk of developing varicose veins, including:

  • Age -- The risk of varicose veins increases with age. Aging causes wear and tear on the valves in your veins that help regulate blood flow. Eventually, that wear causes the valves to allow some blood to flow back into your veins where it collects instead of flowing up to your heart.
  • Pregnancy -- During pregnancy, the volume of blood in your body increases. This change supports the growing fetus, but also can produce an unfortunate side effect — enlarged veins in your legs. Hormonal changes during pregnancy may also play a role.
  • Family history -- If other family members had varicose veins, there's a greater chance you will too.
  • Obesity -- Being overweight puts added pressure on your veins.
  • Standing or sitting for long periods of time -- Your blood doesn't flow as well if you're in the same position for long periods.

Symptoms

Varicose veins may not cause any pain. Signs you may have varicose veins include:

  • Veins that are dark purple or blue in color
  • Veins that appear twisted and bulging; they are often like cords on your legs

When painful signs and symptoms occur, they may include:

  • An achy or heavy feeling in your legs
  • Burning, throbbing, muscle cramping and swelling in your lower legs
  • Worsened pain after sitting or standing for a long time
  • Itching around one or more of your veins
  • Skin discoloration around a varicose vein

Spider veins are similar to varicose veins, but they're smaller. Spider veins are found closer to the skin's surface and are often red or blue.

Spider veins occur on the legs, but can also be found on the face. They vary in size and often look like a spider's web.

Treatment

There are many different treatment methods for varicose veins. Conservative treatment options include lifestyle modifications, daily exercise, leg elevation and medical grade compression stockings. If traditional treatments are not effective and are unsuccessful at relieving symptoms, then the closure of the vein is typically the next step in treatment.

  • EndoVenous Laser Treatment (EVLT) -- EVLT takes about 30 minutes with little to no recovery time. We use a fine optical fiber, which is advanced through a catheter into the refluxing vein. As the fiber is slowly withdrawn, the laser energy is absorbed by the vein wall tissue, sealing the vessel.
  • Ambulatory Phlebectomy -- This treatment is a minimally invasive procedure that removes the bulging vein segments through tiny skin punctures. This treatment is performed with local anesthesia and does not significantly alter recovery time.
  • Sclerotherapy -- Sclerotherapy slowly eliminates unsightly skin veins. This treatment improves the appearance of the legs. Patients typically receive multiple treatments and most see improvement in 6-12 months.

Our extensive knowledge and commitment to quality care makes us one of the most trusted groups in Arizona. To get more information and to learn about our next free vein screening, visit our Vein Center.

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