From Spider Veins to Varicose Veins: How to get rid of them

You don’t have to live with varicose veins.

Varicose veins are a common woe for many individuals—so common, in fact, that as many as 30 million people may have them but are undiagnosed, including 41 percent of women over age 50. Many of us decide how long our skirts or shorts should be – or even opt out of wearing them entirely – because we are embarrassed by their appearance.

But varicose veins, and their close cousin spider veins, are more than just unattractive. They can be painful and even dangerous to your health. However, with proper treatment, you may experience relief from both their appearance and their side effects.

First off, let’s take a closer look at varicose veins.

What are varicose veins?

Simply put, they are enlarged veins that may appear twisted or bulging, typically in the back of your legs just below or behind your knee. The areas are often raised or swollen and can be painful.

What causes them?

Varicose veins are created when the valves that prevent the backflow of blood in your veins become weak or damaged. The backflow creates pools of blood that are visible under the skin. If left untreated, varicose veins can be painful, lead to leg swelling, venous eczema, skin thickening, and ulceration.

What are the symptoms of varicose veins?

Chances are, if you have varicose veins, you already know it. But you should watch for dark purple or blue colored veins, particularly those that are twisted or bulging. You may also experience swelling or pain in your legs. Some people also have a heaviness or fatigue in their legs or skin ulcers.

Who is most at risk?

Because varicose veins are an inherited genetic disorder, about half of varicose vein patients have a family history of the disease. Certain environmental factors will activate the gene – causing visible symptoms – including heavy labor, obesity, and prolonged standing. Women who are only moderately overweight increase their risk by 50 percent, and women with a body mass index (BMI) over 30 are three times more likely to develop varicose veins.  

What’s the difference between varicose veins and spider veins?

Spider veins are a milder version of varicose veins. While they may not be painful, they are often frustrating to get rid of. Just like varicose veins, they are caused by a back-up of blood in the smaller veins just below the skin surface.

If I already have varicose veins, do I have to live with them?

There are some things you can do on your own – including exercising, losing weight, not wearing tight clothes, elevating your legs regularly, and avoiding long periods of standing or sitting — that may ease the pain from varicose veins. These activities may also keep varicose veins from getting worse and prevent new ones from forming.

However, the varicose veins that you may have now will not go away on their own. They require medical treatment ranging from noninvasive to surgical, depending on the severity of your situation.

What are my treatment options?

At the Vascular Center of Mobile, we offer the very best methods and the latest technology to treat vein problems. We help patients determine which treatment option is most appropriate for their specific medical needs. Options include:

Sclerotherapy is the injection of a solution into offending veins, performed in the office. It is relatively painless and may be repeated as necessary to remove the appearance of unsightly varicosities. This treatment is ideal for smaller veins and is generally not as successful in larger veins.

Ambulatory phlebectomy is an outpatient procedure that removes superficial veins through small, slit-like incisions in the skin. This is typically used along with laser ablation to ensure the most effective results.

Laser ablation is an image-guided, minimally invasive treatment that involves radiofrequency or laser energy to cauterize and close the abnormal veins that lead to varicose veins. Moderate sedation is used to ensure the patient feels nothing other than gentle pulling.

With so many treatment options available, there is no reason to tolerate the ongoing pain and discomfort that varicose veins can bring. Appropriate treatment can also prevent future complications and, perhaps best of all, will improve the overall appearance of your legs.

If you’re interested in discussing your own situation – including your current varicose veins, your future risk, and potential treatment options – consider the Vascular Center of Mobile.

The Vascular Center has served the Greater Mobile area as a full-service vascular surgery and endovascular care practice for more than 30 years. We are focused on diagnosing and treating artery and vein disorders using advanced minimally invasive procedures. Call 251-445-0075 today or click here to request a consultation.