Leg veins are a common problem for adults, especially women. They are visible and sometimes unsightly veins in the legs that may indicate a health risk as well as a cosmetic imperfection.
With the addition of Dr. Michael Graves, Southwest Dermatology & Vein has expanded its services to include the treatment of vein disorders, including varicose veins and spider veins.
Affecting almost half of the U.S. population, chronic venous disease of the legs is one of the most common conditions affecting patients. In addition to aesthetic concerns, varicose veins often cause tired, aching, heavy, swollen legs which can lead to skin discoloration, itching, pain, night cramps, and ultimately skin breakdown in the lower extremities.
Types of leg veins:
- Spider veins – While spider veins are often considered cosmetic, they can be a marker of underlying vein disease. They are usually relatively small blue veins that show up close to the surface of the skin.
- Varicose veins – Varicose veins are often much larger and engorged than spider veins and may even have a gnarled appearance. They can be associated with spider veins and often represent a circulation problem, including deeper venous disease which can leg to classic symptoms of pain and night cramps.
Causes and risks:
Varicose veins are commonly a sign of problems with venous circulation and often are the result of deeper leg vein issues. While varicose vein disease usually is a genetic condition, other risk factors can worsen it. Varicose veins tend to worsen substantially with each pregnancy. Those with occupations where extended periods of standing are more at risk. Finally, obesity, older age and being female increases your risk of having varicose vein disease.
Treatments and care:
An initial vein consultation with Dr. Graves and his trained medical staff will help patients understand their symptoms and confirm if venous a disorder is the underlying cause.
Treatments offered by Dr. Graves for the relief of vein disorders include laser treatments, sclerotherapy, and phlebectomy. Dr. Graves will work with each patient to develop an individually tailored treatment plan after an initial evaluation and consultation.
Heredity and pregnancy are two factors that make it difficult to control varicose and spider veins. They can be kept under control, however, by maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly to improve circulation. Those who are required to stand for long periods of time should also take regular breaks where their legs and feet are elevated.
Though spider veins are primarily a cosmetic concern, varicose veins can be associated with potentially life-threatening conditions such as blood clots. If a significant change in appearance or swelling is noticed, medical treatment should be sought.
There are several treatments which can improve the condition:
- Endovenous laser ablation: Endovenous laser ablation is one of the safest and most effective treatments for larger, problem causing veins that are often the source of varicose veins. It precisely targets individual problems causing veins and closes them in a controlled fashion with minimal discomfort. It is an outpatient procedure that takes approximately one hour, with the majority of patients able to drive themselves to and from the office.
- Ultrasound Guided Sclerotherapy – This procedure mainly is used to treat varicose veins. It can relieve the aching, itching, and swelling that often comes with varicose veins. A foamed solution mixed at a precise concentration is injected directly into the area of vein disease, causing the vein to close and directing the blood flow to healthier veins. Though it is relatively safe, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid the procedure.
- Ambulatory Phlebectomy – An ambulatory phlebectomy involves the physical removal of a bulging vein. The areas is numbed to ensure minimal to no discomfort, and the vein is removed through tiny incisions using a small hook that leaves virtually no scarring. As with the other vein procedures, removal of the diseased leg veins can lead to improvement of the aching, swelling and night cramps that come with vein disease.
- Sclerotherapy – Often used to treat cosmetic spider veins on the legs. A liquid solution is injected using a tiny needle into individual veins on the legs. The irritation from the solution causes the veins to close down, which are subsequently reabsorbed by the body. While sclerotherapy has been known to improve pain associated with spider veins, it usually is not covered by insurance.