How Do Varicose Veins Develop?

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This image demonstrates how varicose veins develop.

Your veins have one-way valves that help keep blood flowing toward your heart. If the valves are weak or damaged, blood can back up and pool in your veins. This causes the veins to swell, which can lead to varicose veins.

Can Spider Veins Be Painful?

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Spider veins are small abnormally enlarged reddish or bluish vessels located at the surface of the skin. They can look like tree branches or spiderwebs with their short, jagged lines. They can be found on the legs and face and can cover either a very small or very large area of skin. Spider veins are like varicose veins but smaller. They can also can symptoms such as leg pain, itching, aching, burning and throbbing, just like larger veins.

In contrast to what most people think, spider veins are not only cosmetic but can actually cause symptoms, including swelling and heaviness of the legs. This may be in part because small spider veins can be a sign of underlying venous insufficiency or venous reflux disease.

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Why Didn’t My Spider Veins Go Away?

Before and After spider vein treatment at La Jolla Vein Care. This picture demonstrates that spider veins (reddish spider like vessels) can stem from underlying feeder vessels (the blue vein). The feeder vein can be compared to the ‘root’ of a weed; If you clip the surface branches of a weed without pulling the root of the problem, the weed will never go away.
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Veins in certain locations, like in the inner knee or inner thighs and inner ankles, often arise from underlying venous incompetence of a vein called the great saphenous vein that runs from the groin along the inner thigh to the ankle. If spider veins do not respond to treatment, it is important to have an ultrasound evaluation to determine if there is an underlying source of the problem.  Once the underlying problem is properly identified, it can be treated. 

Spider veins can be the ‘tip of the iceberg’ and represent a bigger problem, that is not visible to the naked eye. For example, as seen in the first image, spider veins can arise from blue ‘feeder’ veins, which must be treated for best results.

Spider veins can also stem from an underlying problem such as venous reflux in larger veins, such as the great saphenous vein. As demonstrated in the second picture, spider veins in the inner knee, inner ankle and inner thighs can originate from this vein. This can only be determined by ultrasound examination. It is important to have your vein evaluated by a trained specialist. Effective treatment depends on an accurate and thorough diagnosis.

Varicose Veins: Why Me?

Who gets varicose veins and why.

Both women and men can develop vein disorders at any age.  It can affect the healthiest of individuals, but there are some conditions that increase your risk of developing varicose veins.  They are mostly inherited; if both of your parents had varicose veins, you have a 90% chance of also having them.  Other factors that increase your chance of developing vein disorders include being female, hormonal changes, pregnancy, getting older, having a job that requires many hours standing or sitting, being overweight, and a history of leg injuries.

  • Increasing age. As you get older, the valves in your veins may weaken and not work as well.
  • Heredity. Being born with weak vein valves increases your risk. Having family members with vein problems also increases your risk. About half of all people who have varicose veins have a family member who has them too.
  • Hormonal changes. These occur during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. Taking birth control pills and other medicines containing estrogen and progesterone also may contribute to the forming of varicose or spider veins.
  • Pregnancy. The hormones during pregnancy greatly influence the leg veins. Varicose veins can even be a symptom of pregnancy and can show up during the first trimester. As pregnancy progresses, there is a huge increase in the amount of blood in the body. This can cause veins to enlarge. The growing uterus  also puts pressure on the veins. Varicose veins usually improve within 3 months after delivery. More varicose veins and spider veins usually appear with each additional pregnancy.
  • Obesity. Being overweight or obese can put extra pressure on your veins. This can lead to varicose veins.
  • Lack of movement. Sitting or standing for a long time may force your veins to work harder to pump blood to your heart. This may be a bigger problem if you sit with your legs bent or crossed.
  • Leg Injuries

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    Varicose Veins: Before and After Treatment. These varicose veins were removed without traditional vein stripping surgery at La Jolla Vein Care. To read more about minimally invasive varicose veins treatments, go to www.lajollaveincare.com

How does graduated compression help with the management of varicose veins?

 

Graduated compression therapy is used to treat vein disorders such as varicose veins, venous leg ulcer, venous insufficiency, venous reflux disease, swelling and after vein treatments.  They work by applying external pressure to your legs reducing venous pressure. These elastic stockings squeeze or compress the veins and prevent blood from flowing backward. Compression stockings must be graduated, medical grade compression to be beneficial. Graduated compression stockings are great to use if your want to increase circulation, support you leg veins, and want to reduce uncomfortable leg symptoms such as swelling, tired and achy feeling legs.

graduated_compression_leg_1Over the counter support hose or TED hose are not adequate to reduce symptoms in venous disease for active patients. More questions about compression therapy can be answered at compressrx.com.