About Venous Disease

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Spider Veins

Spider veins or telangiectasias are tiny blood vessels just beneath the skin surface. They are filled with blood, which makes them visible through the skin. They are red, blue, or purple in color and can vary from a single dot or line to dense mats or clusters.

Contrary to what many physicians are taught, spider veins can cause many of the same symptoms of much larger varicose veins, such as itching or burning, heaviness, and fatigue in the legs. Although they may be symptomatic, spider veins are considered a cosmetic problem rather than medical condition. They do not lead to serious complications. The primary concern with spider veins is their unsightly, embarrassing appearance that may interfere with normal physical or social activities.

Spider veins are often caused by underlying venous insufficiency and can be an indication of diseased large vessels underneath. Dr Hayes may use an ultrasound or vein lite to search for any larger diseased veins that may be causing your spider veins. If venous insufficiency is diagnosed, it needs to be treated first; or spider vein treatment will be ineffective.

The tendency to develop spider veins is largely hereditary, and there is not much you can do to prevent them. Support hose and exercise are helpful for symptoms, but the veins keep growing. Pregnancy and hormonal variations hasten their appearance.

Reticular Veins

Reticular veins are darker veins that form bluish networks that criss-cross over the thighs and lower legs. They are considered a cosmetic difficulty rather than a medical condition. They are larger than spider veins and "feed" spider veins. Ignoring them when treating spider veins can lead to less than optimal results.

Varicose Veins

Varicose Veins (often misspelled as Vericose) are permanently enlarged veins located beneath the skin. They become dilated and tortuous in response to abnormally high pressures seen in venous insufficiency. They are typically blue or purple, measure 3-8 mm in diameter, and have a twisted, ropy appearance. They affect an estimated 10% to 60% of the adult population, most of which are women.

Varicose veins are caused by superficial venous insufficiency. As described above, superficial venous insufficiency is due to faulty one-way valves that do not close properly and allow blood to leak back with gravity and pool in the saphenous veins and their tributaries. This pooling leads to abnormally high venous pressures within malfunctioning veins which causes them to distend and balloon out, thus becoming varicosities.

One of the biggest contributing factors in the development of varicose veins is heredity or family history. Other risk factors include prolonged standing or sitting, pregnancy, hormonal influences, and obesity. The incidence increases with age.

Varicose veins are irreversibly damaged and do not assist in blood circulation (in fact they actually impair blood return to the heart). The body will not miss them when they are removed, and they are not suitable for use during heart bypass procedures.

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