Understanding Vein Disease

Definition • Diagnosis • Treatments

Understanding Vein Disease

Definition • Diagnosis • Treatments

What is Venous Reflux Disease?

Venous reflux disease is also known as venous stasis, venous insufficiency or venous incompetence. Venous reflux disease refers to ‘leaky valves’ in the veins of the legs. Reflux may occur in the deep and/or superficial leg veins. The deep veins are those within the muscle; they bring at least 80-90% of the blood from the legs back to the heart. The superficial veins are outside of the muscle and under the skin.

Venous reflux disease is also known as venous stasis, venous insufficiency or venous incompetence.  Venous reflux disease refers to ‘leaky valves’ in the veins of the legs. Reflux may occur in the deep and/or superficial leg veins.  The deep veins are those within the muscle; they bring at least 80-90% of the blood from the legs back to the heart.  The superficial veins are outside of the muscle and under the skin.

The main superficial veins are the Great Saphenous Vein that courses up the middle of the thigh and calf and the small sphaneous vein, which courses up the back of the calf. Normally, there are one-way valves within the leg veins, which help blood flow in one direction: toward the heart. This means blood is traveling against gravity.

The main superficial veins are the Great Saphenous Vein that courses up the middle of the thigh and calf and the small sphaneous vein, which courses up the back of the calf. Normally, there are one-way valves within the leg veins, which help blood flow in one direction: toward the heart. This means blood is traveling against gravity.

The calf muscle also helps move blood toward the heart. When vein valves are leaky, blood flows backward (reflux) towards the feet. Blood pools in the lower legs, causing bulging veins at the surface. Symptoms include leg heaviness, leg fatigue, leg pain, ankle swelling, phlebitis (inflamed and painful veins) restless legs at night, and night cramps.

The calf muscle also helps move blood toward the heart. When vein valves are leaky, blood flows backward (reflux) towards the feet. Blood pools in the lower legs, causing bulging veins at the surface. Symptoms include leg heaviness, leg fatigue, leg pain, ankle swelling, phlebitis (inflamed and painful veins) restless legs at night, and night cramps.

Venous reflux disease is progressive and worsens over time. Skin changes may also develop, including darkening of the skin around the ankles. The darkening of the skin is sometimes referred to as venous stasis skin changes. The skin can become dry and itchy (venous eczema). Eventually, the skin can break down causing a wound, called a venous leg ulcer.

Venous reflux disease is progressive and worsens over time. Skin changes may also develop, including darkening of the skin around the ankles. The darkening of the skin is sometimes referred to as venous stasis skin changes. The skin can become dry and itchy (venous eczema). Eventually, the skin can break down causing a wound, called a venous leg ulcer.

Varicose Veins

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Venules

Darkening of the skin around the ankles.

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The darkening of the skin is sometimes referred to as venous stasis skin changes.

Vein Valves and Ulcers

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Before and After Treatment

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We have many treatment options to help with your vein disease

STAGES OF DEVELOPMENT OF VARICOSE VEIN DISEASE

Image Showing Stages of Development of Varicose

HOW IS VENOUS REFLUX DISEASE DIAGNOSED?

In addition to your physical exam findings and medical history, an ultrasound examination is an important tool in the assessment of venous disease. Not all venous disease is visible to the naked eye, and it usually arises from veins that are beneath the surface of the skin, only visible by ultrasound technology.

The ultrasound allows us to see if the valves are leaky; it can detect the direction of blood flow and also detects blockages in the veins, for example from blood clots or scars within the veins from previous clots.  The ultrasound will determine exactly which veins are ‘bad’ or incompetent.  Reflux may be detected in the deep veins (within the muscle), the great and small saphenous veins, and/or branches of the saphenous veins.  This will help determine the treatment plan.

sample ultrasound image

Sample image of a vascular ultrasound  (veins)

HOW IS VENOUS REFLUX DISEASE TREATED?

Step 1: The Underlying Problem

The first step is to treat the underlying problem, the venous reflux. The specific pattern of venous reflux was detected by ultrasound. Venous reflux usually starts in the saphenous veins. The saphenous veins are most effectively treated with vein ablation procedures. This involves placing a small catheter within the vein and using heat or a solution to produce injury and eventual closure of the vein. The most commonly used treatments for the saphenous veins are radiofrequency ablation (RFA), laser ablation, mechanico-chemical ablation (MOCA or Clarivein), and in some cases Varithena Foam. The treatment Step recommendation is customized, based on where reflux is present and other clinical factors.

Step 2: Varicose Veins

After the underlying saphenous vein reflux is corrected, the bulging veins (varicose veins) can be treated by injecting a foamed medication that will cause them to scar and eventually dissolve (foam sclerotherapy), or to remove them using tiny incisions. The most common method is foam sclerotherapy. This is also known as ultrasound-guided foam sclerotherapy (UGFS).

Step 3: Spider Veins

Spider vein treatment is always considered a cosmetic procedure. If improved cosmesis is a goal of treatment, make sure to discuss this with your doctor and plan on having cosmetic treatment as the last step. Spider vein treatment is accomplished by sclerotherapy, which is an injection of a liquid medication into the spider veins. Ask your provider for an estimate about how many treatment sessions/ vials are necessary to get the results you want.

Step 1: The Underlying Problem

Venous Reflux

Image of Normal vs Diseased Leg Vein

Step 2: Varicose Veins

Foam Sclerotherapy

Varicose Veins in Legs

Step 3: Spider Veins

a cosmetic procedure

Spider Veins are treated with Sclerotherapy

OUR PATIENTS SAY

Dr De Young is personable and thorough in his explanations. Exceptional. 

James R.

I am pleased to recommend La Jolla Vein & Vascular. I am in the process of receiving treatment there. The entire medical staff are super friendly, welcoming and very helpful. Everyone is courteous, including the physicians. I’ve had one doctor follow my case. He’s the one who always treats me at appointments and closely follows my health. I am very comfortable going there. Would go again if needed and encourage anyone who’s thinking of making an appointment to do so asap. You’ll see what a wonderful experience it is. It’s the people who make it so special!

Monica M.

From my greeting at the front desk to the ultrasound and visit with the doctor, I received excellent care. It’s clear they care about their patients and all the staff couldn’t have been nicer or more helpful. I also appreciate how much time the doctor spent with me to explain the results and the next steps. I would definitely recommend this office to friends with vein issues. 

Anne S.

We were early and didn’t have to wait at all. The tech that did my husband’s ultrasound, Monica, was very accommodating with my husband’s Parkinson’s. Doctor Lucas whom we hadn’t seen before, came to us instead of making my husband walk down to another office. She spent a lot of time getting caught up on Steve’s background issues/conditions. I was impressed by this medical group before, so I was surprised that the staff was even better this time around; I honestly didn’t think there was room for improvement! 

Linda N.

I have been having leg treatments for several months now La Jolla Vein Care. Every time I go to an appointment; the staff is so friendly and takes such good care of me; always informative; not in a rush and always friendly (especially Alejandra & Anna to name a few). Of course Dr. Lucas is amazing. The treatments have changed my life. Overall this has been an incredible experience. 

Brigid Z.

Beautiful facility! I walked in without an appointment and they took me right away! It was even the end of the day…I was so grateful…Every single person was soooo pleasant! Super impressed ❤️ 

Susan M.

Highly recommend! Entire staff are warm& friendly, professional and accommodating. The doctor took the time to thoroughly explain everything and encouraged me to ask questions. I never felt rushed. Significantly better experience than the other 2 vein clinics I’ve been to on the east coast. I wish I could’ve just come here from the beginning. 

M.

The staff kept you informed as to when you would be seen and the wait was not too long. Emily took care of my ultrasound and was very accommodating giving me an extra pillow and playing a video to watch. The office is very courteous and professional- Nadia answered our questions and offered us a bottle of water. I have been seeing Dr. Bunke, but now Dr. Lucas and will continue coming to La Jolla Vein Care! 

Rebecca D.

I had the best experience at La Jolla Vein Care. Dr.Bunke is an amazing doctor with the best bedside manners, she truly cares about her patients, she explained everything to me. My procedures where so easy I was impressed how painless and fast my appointments. Anna M was very helpful scheduling my treatments and checking on me to make sure all of my questions were answered. I am very pleased thank you !!! I truly recommend La Jolla Vein Care!

Henda S.

Everyone here is so nice! Usually front desk medical personnel are so rude. The front desk ladies Alejandra, Anna, and I think her name is Liz, went above and beyond to take care of me and my insurance issues. The techs are great too! Rachel and a male technician assisted me…both of them implemented different techniques to make me feel more at ease during an uncomfortable and painful process. These procedures were rough…and I am grateful everyone was so sweet to me. Thanks again. 

Melissa B.

When I arrived for the first time, I could barely walk. My legs were red and swollen. After my treatments, I can now walk again. I’m so thankful to the doctor and his staff. They are caring, supporting and knowledgeable about my issues. Five Stars all the way!!!! 

Pamela M.

La Jolla Vein care has the best staff ever. They are so nice, accommodating and professional!! Dr. Bunke is the best doctor that I ever seen. She is so friendly upfront and has the best bed side manner. I thank this office for letting me be their patient. 💜. Plus they are so careful with COVID which I really appreciate!!! 

Darlene H.

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