Spider and Varicose Veins: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

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Varicose and Spider Veins: What Are They, How They Occur, Treatments To Curing Them and What People Can Do To Avoid Getting Them

A Look At Spider and Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are engorged veins that resemble cords, which looks like their bulging and can be found in red, blue or flesh-colored. They can swell up and rise above the skin’s surface. They’re often found in the regions of the inside of the leg, back of calves and on thighs. And, in pregnancy, varicose veins can appear on or around the butt and vagina.

Spider veins are much like varicose veins, only smaller. These are usually closer to the skin’s surface than the varicose veins and are usually blue or red in color. Spider veins resemble spider webs with short, serrated lines. These tend to appear on the face and legs, covering a small or large patch of skin.

Why Does Spider and Varicose Veins Occur In the First Place
Varicose veins are the result of veins’ valves that are either weak or damaged. The heart has the duty to pump blood loaded with oxygen and nutrients throughout the body by way of the arteries. The veins have the task to carry blood from the body to the heart. When the leg muscles squeeze, it pushes the blood back to the heart from the lower regions of the body against gravity. The veins’ valves act like a one-way flap to keep blood from going backwards, as it moves upward in the legs.

Should the valves weaken, the blood will leak back into the veins and pool there, a condition known as venous insufficiency. The pooled blood will cause the veins to increase in size, becoming varicose.  Spider veins are the result of blood that has backed up, caused by sun exposure, injuries or hormonal changes.

Commonality of Spider and Varicose Veins
Roughly 55 percent of woman and 45 percent of men in the United States have some kind of vein problem, and more than half of people older than 50 have varicose veins.

7 Factors That Increases The Risk For Spider and Varicose Veins
There are at least seven factors that increase one’s risk for develops either varicose or spider veins:

  1. Age – As the body ages, the veins’ valves can weaken or stop working altogether.
  2. Changes in Hormones – Occurs in puberty, menopause and pregnancy; medicine like birth control pills, progesterone or estrogen can lead to varicose or spider veins formation.
  3. Pregnancy – This causes a significant rise of blood in the body, which will cause the veins to swell. They usually go away within three months after the baby is born. However, additional pregnancies cause more to appear.
  4. Obesity – When the body is carrying too much weight, it places undue pressure on the veins, which will lead to varicose veins.
  5. No Physical Activity – Standing or sitting for long periods of time causes the veins to work harder pushing the blood back to the heart. Sitting with legs bent or crossed can be a real big problem.
  6. Medical history – Persons born with weak veins have an increased risk for varicose or spider veins. A family history with the problem also increases the risk.
  7. Exposure To Sun – Fair-skinned persons exposed to the sun will have spider veins on their nose or cheeks.

Why They Are Found More Often In The Legs
The reason varicose veins and spider veins are found in the legs is that they carry the weight of the body and must carry the blood the bottom upwards to the heart. The leg veins, compared to other veins, have the hardest job of carrying the blood to the heart. They have the most pressure put on them. And, the pressure can be much stronger than the vein’s one-way valves.

How To Know You Have It: Several Common Varicose Veins Signs To Watch Out For
Varicose veins are typically seen on the skin but other common symptoms include:

  • Aching pain that worsens after sitting/standing for long periods of time
  • Heaviness
  • Cramping/throbbing
  • Swelling
  • Skin darkening
  • Restless legs
  • Itchy/irritated rash

How Dangerous Are They: Should People Be Concerned About Varicose or Spider Veins
How concerned should persons be about varicose and/or spider veins? Spider veins are not a major serious health problem but can cause persons discomfort in the legs. Common spider veins symptoms are burning and itching. Bear in mind that spider veins could be a sign that blood has backed up deep inside; something not seen on the skin. Thus, varicose veins could cause similar symptoms.

Varicose veins don’t generally cause issues but, if they do, it’s typically a throbbing, aching pain… a real discomfort. It can, however, lead to serious health problems like:

  • Bleeding – Skin over veins become thick and easily injured, which can cause significant blood loss.
  • Skin ulcers – This is the result of long-term blood backup and is usually painful and slow to heal. Sometimes they won’t heal until vein has been repaired.
  • Deep vein thrombosis – Blood clot in deep veins; it causes a pulling feeling within the calf as well as swelling, redness, pain and warmth. It can also cause no symptoms and may result in death if not it gets into the lungs.
  • Superficial thrombophlebitis – This is a blood clot that forms inside the veins, just under the skin. Its symptoms are pain, swelling, skin redness, firm, warm and tender vein.

When Should A Doctor Be Seen About Varicose Veins
It’s important to see a doctor about the varicose veins if:

  • They have become swollen, tender, warm or red
  • They have sores or a rash on the leg or ankle
  • Skin on calf and ankle is thick and color changes
  • Bleeding occurs
  • Leg symptoms are causing problems with everyday life
  • Veins appearance on causing you problems

Persons should seek assistance if they have pain, even if it’s dull. Even if a doctor is not sought out, steps should be taken to avoid getting them.

How Do Doctors Diagnose Varicose Veins?
Doctors will perform a physical examination, looking at the legs as the person is standing or sitting. They’ll ask about symptoms the patient is having including pain. Other tests may be performed to rule out additional disorders. A doctor may order an ultrasound to look at vein structure, the blood flow and find blood clots. It’s possible a doctor will order a patient to have a venogram, which is a test to get an in-depth look at the veins’ blood flow.

There are five common doctors people will see about their varicose veins:

  • Dermatologist – skin doctor
  • Vascular medicine doctor – deals with blood system
  • Vascular surgeon – performs surgery and other procedures
  • Phlebologist – vein specialist
  • Interventional radiologist – specializes in imaging tools to look inside and do treatments without any cutting if possible

Each specialist does many or all procedures that treat varicose veins. The patient’s primary care physician can recommend the specialist the patient should see. Patients should also check with their insurance carrier to determine what procedures and doctors they’ll pay for.

What Are The Treatments For Spider and Varicose Veins?
Medical treatments and lifestyle changes can treat varicose veins by:

  • Improving appearance
  • Prevent complications
  • Relieving symptoms

If a patient is not suffering from many symptoms, their doctor may suggest some lifestyle changes. However, medical treatments may be necessary if there are any serious symptoms.

1 – Compression Stockings
These things will place much needed pressure on the veins and comes in three forms:

  • Support pantyhose – This gives the tiniest amount of pressure and are not gradient, which means pressure is everywhere in the body and not centralized.
  • Over-the-counter gradient compression hose – This gives more pressure than support pantyhose and are seen in drugstores and medical supply stores.
  • Prescription-strength gradient compression hose – This gives the best pressure possible and are generally seen in drug stores and medical supply stores. Patients will have to be professionally fitted by trained personnel.

2 – Sclerotherapy
A common spider veins and varicose veins treatment and is done by having the doctor inject the vein with a liquid chemical. This chemical will cause swelling of the vein walls so they stick together and clamp shut. The blood flow will stop and veins will become scar tissue. Over time, the veins will fade. There’s no anesthesia required and can be done in the office. Normal activity can be resumed after the treatment.

Treatment of the same vein is possible and is typically done every six weeks. A doctor will ask patients to use a gradient compression stocking to assist in the healing and reduce the swelling. If done correctly, the treatment can be very effective.

Three possible side effects:

  • Red, raised skin patches, bruises near injection site – It doesn’t take long to go away.
  • Cluster of fine red blood vessels, brown lines and spots near treated vein – It will also goes away quickly.
  • Inflammation due to lumps of blood – Swelling can be relieve by taking aspirin and using heat. Trapped blood can be drain with tiny pinprick. This side effect is not anything to worry with.

Ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy is a treatment that involves utilizes ultrasound imaging to direct the needle and is useful for treating veins not seen on the surface of the skin. It’s often used after endovenous techniques or surgery upon return of the varicose veins. It’s also done in the doctor’s office. Potential side effects are mistaken artery injection, swelling, deep vein thrombosis and skin sores.

3 – Surface Laser Treatments
Some doctors may use surface laser treatments due treat smaller varicose veins and spider veins. It works by sending extremely strong light bursts into the vein, which will cause it to gradually fade and disappear. The downside is that not all skin colors and types can use this treatment.

This treatment does not involve incisions or needles but rather heat from a laser, which can be extremely painful. Cooling can lessen the pain. The treatments tend to last no more than 20 minutes and up to five treatments are needed to eliminate the spider veins. Any varicose veins more than 3mm will not be affected by this treatment. Normal activity can be resumed.

Possible side effects associated with the laser method are:

  • Scars and burns
  • Discolored skin for up to two months
  • Swelling and redness are treatment, will disappear within several days

4 – Endovenous Techniques (Laser and Radiofrequency)
These techniques are used to treat veins that are deeper in the legs known as the saphenous veins and have taken the place of surgery for the majority of patients who have severe varicose veins. However, they can be done in the doctor’s office.

It’s done by placing a tiny tube known as a catheter into the affected vein. A probe is then funneled through the tube.  A device at the probe’s tip heats up the vein and shuts it off, using either laser energy or radiofrequency. A local anesthesia is used during the procedure. Bruising is common afterwards.

Healthy veins situated near the closed vein will take over the normal blood flow, which means varicose vein symptoms will improve. Veins on the skin surface that are linked to the varicose vein that’s been treated will decrease in size after the treatment. No decrease in size means other forms of treatment may be needed.

5 – Surgery
This is typically done to treat extremely large varicose veins. Three common kinds of surgery are:

  • Surgical Ligation and Stripping
  • Pin Stripping
  • Ambulatory Phlebectomy

Surgical Ligation and Stripping is when the problematic veins are tied closed and removed entirely from the leg through small incisions. Circulation of the blood is not affected with the vein’s removal. Deeper veins will handle the large blood volume. This kind of surgery will need general anesthesia and requires an operating rom. Recovery takes up to four weeks. While safe, there are some side effects:

  • Leg pain
  • Heart/breathing problems from the anesthesia
  • Wound infection
  • Bleeding, blood congestion
  • Permanent scars
  • Deep vein blood clot – clots can travel to lungs and heart, which are fatal. Heparin is often used to reduce the possibility; but, it can boost bleeding and bruising after the surgical process.
  • Nerve tissue damage – It’s difficult to keep from causing harm to nerve branches when the veins have been removed, which causes the following feelings: burning, numbness and feeling change around scar.

Pin stripping works by using a PIN stripper that’s placed into the vein. The tip is sewn to the end of the vein. When the tip is removed so is the vein. It can be done in an outpatient center or operating room with either local or general anesthesia being used.

Ambulatory phlebectomy is when tiny cuts are made into the skin with hooks being used to pull the vein from the leg.  The only parts that will be numb are the ones that have been pricked. It typically takes just one treatment to complete. Minimal scars are often the result of extremely large varicose veins being removed. The treatment does not hinder a person’s physical activity for more than a day. However, bruising and some temporary numbness is experienced with the treatment.

How To Keep Spider and Varicose Veins From Occurring
It’s important to note that not all spider and varicose veins can be stopped. However, there are steps people can do to reduce their chances of developing new spider and varicose veins. Some things that can be done are:

  • Protect skin using sunscreen.
  • Exercise on regular basis to boost leg strength, vein strength and circulation. Place focus more on running and walking exercises.
  • Maintain healthy weight to avoid a lot of pressure on legs.
  • Don’t cross legs for extended periods of time while sitting, as injuries can occur and result in varicose veins.
  • Raise legs when resting.
  • Don’t sit or stand for extended periods of time. Shift weight often from one leg to the other. Take short walks every half hour.
  • Use elastic support stockings and don’t wear tight clothing, which can constrict the legs, groin and waist.
  • Don’t wear high heels for a long time.
  • Consume low-salt diet that’s high in high-fiber foods. Fiber reduces constipation chances, which can lead to varicose veins.

Are Spider and Varicose Veins Likely To Come Back After Treatment
As it stands, present-day treatments of the two conditions have high success rates compared to the conventional surgical treatments. But, it’s not uncommon for abnormal veins to develop, as the weak vein valves condition has no cure. A doctor will use an ultrasound to determine how seriously the valves are dripping. Repeated treatment will ensure the problem stays under control.

Do you have varicose or spider veins? Whether you do or don’t, slowing down the development or redevelopment of varicose or spider veins is imperative, which can be done using a gradient compression support stockings all day long.

InMotion Foot and Ankle Specialists offer Superficial Laser treatment for the treatment of spider veins for the lower leg, ankle area and foot, we  offer the Cutera laser system, minimize discomfort with direct cooling while using the laser, it is very effective in eliminating Spider veins in the lower leg and foot. Warts (Verruca), fungal infected nails, and Scars can be treated with this laser system as well. Contact InMotion Foot and Ankle Specialists at 480-948-2111 so you can schedule a consultation with Dr. Werber.

*Content source: womenshealth.gov

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