- What is Vein Disease?
- Causes of Vein Disease
- How is Vein Disease Diagnosed?
- Is Treatment Covered by Insurance?
- Symptoms of Venous Insufficiency Further Explained
- How is Vein Disease Treated?
- Lifestyle Changes
- Radio-Frequency Ablation (VENOUS Closure or The Venefit Procedure)
- VenaSeal Closure System
- Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA)
- Spider Vein Laser Treatment
- Ambulatory Phlebectomy
- Schedule a Consultation with RestoreMD Today
Our veins and arteries play a vital role in moving blood from our heart and throughout the rest of our body. As blood travels back to the heart, unique one-way valves help push the blood flow forward, stopping the blood from flowing backward.
What is Vein Disease?
Complications, however, arise when blood vessels have difficulty transporting blood efficiently. When your veins and arteries cannot easily send blood back to the heart from your limbs, a condition develops known as chronic venous insufficiency.
When you are experiencing venous insufficiency, the blood that flows backward begins to pool in the veins of your legs.
12 Symptoms Of Vein Disease You Need To Know
The symptoms of vein disease are diverse and can affect people differently. For most, spider veins and varicose veins are a seemingly cosmetic issue or nuisance. For others, however, varicose veins may be related to a much more severe medical problem.
While individuals may experience symptoms differently, spider veins are not just cosmetic, they can cause symptoms such as fatigue, swelling, and heaviness in the legs; and may be caused by a progressive underlying vein condition.
In fact, varicose veins and spider veins are two conditions caused by vein disease, which impacts a significant number of Americans.
While the early stages of vein disease may often present with little to no symptoms, they can become dangerous if not addressed.
The sooner you seek treatment, the less likely you are to develop symptoms that may prevent you from living a healthy, active lifestyle.
Do You Have Vein Disease Symptoms?
Symptoms Of Vein Disease Include:
The symptoms associated with vein disease are diverse and impact people differently. As noted, venous insufficiency is a progressive condition, therefore, the longer it is left untreated, the more severe the symptoms may be.
- Swelling of the legs or ankles (edema)
- Itchy Legs
- Weak Legs
- Aching, throbbing, or a sensation of heaviness in the legs
- Leg cramping
- Restless legs
- Pain that gets worse when you stand but improves when you raise your legs
- Bulging or varicose veins
- Spider veins
- Skin discoloration, especially around the ankles
- Thickening of the skin on your legs and ankles
- Feeling tightness in your calves
- Blood clots
Causes of Vein Disease
In healthy veins, blood flows continuously and unobstructed from the limbs to the heart. The one-way valves operate efficiently to prevent the backflow of blood. In most cases, vein disease is caused by varicose veins or blood clots.
In the case of a blood clot, blood flow is obstructed by a clot, causing the blood to build below the clot, weakening and damaging the vein.
Varicose veins are missing the one-way valve, or the valve is impaired, allowing blood to leak back into the limbs.
Women are more likely to develop vein disease; however, additional factors may increase your chances of developing the condition.
Below is a list of factors that may increase the chances of developing vein disease. Knowing your risks is an essential step to identifying early symptoms.
- Family history of a vein or heart disease
- Leg Injury or trauma
- Muscle Weakness
- Blood clots
- Varicose veins
- Prior stroke
- Sitting or standing for long periods without moving or stretching
- Heavy lifting
How is Vein Disease Diagnosed?
For many people, vein disease may not be visible to the naked eye, which is why consulting with a medical professional is so important.
A skilled vein doctor can put together a treatment plan based on both a physical examination and a complete medical history reviewing your symptoms, family history, and lifestyle factors.
Ultrasound, however, is the only definitive way to diagnose vein disease. Ultrasound allows the technician to look inside your leg veins to determine whether they are functioning correctly and to help pinpoint the root of the problem.
Imaging tests may include a venogram or a duplex ultrasound.
What is a Venogram?
Your doctor will use intravenous (IV) contrast dye into your veins, which will cause your blood vessels to appear opaque on the x-ray image. The dye will assist your doctor in seeing a clear picture of your blood vessels.
What is a Duplex Ultrasound?
A duplex ultrasound tests the speed and direction of the blood flow in your veins.
An ultrasound technician will apply a warm gel on your skin and press a hand-held device called a transducer or small microphone against the skin. The transducer uses sound waves that will produce images of blood flow for the technician to review.
Book Your Vein Consultation
Is Treatment Covered by Insurance?
Since vein disease is a diagnosed medical condition, most insurance plans cover treatment, and the clinical tests needed to help diagnose or rule out any underlying conditions or illnesses.
Keep in mind, insurance companies may require up to 3 months of conservative therapies to show little to no improvement of symptoms before approval for treatment.
Examples of conservative therapies may include:
- Leg elevation
- Compression stockings
- The use of anti-inflammatories
While conservative therapies may offer short-term temporary relief, they will not cure vein disease.
Additionally, treatment to improve the appearance of smaller vein disorders, such as spider veins, are considered non-symptomatic of medically necessary treatment and are typically not covered by insurance. These procedures are deemed to be “cosmetic” in nature and will not be treated if they are not accompanied symptoms causing you pain or discomfort.
Speak with your insurance provider today before seeking treatment. Often, your vascular surgeon will work with you to determine what symptoms may qualify as “medically necessary treatment” and will work with your insurance provider to obtain coverage.
Symptoms of Venous Insufficiency Further Explained
Often seen just under the skin’s surface, varicose veins usually appear as thick, twisted, ropey, bulging and swollen veins.
In bulging veins, the faulty valves have allowed blood to flow backward and pool in the veins of your legs. As a result, the veins stretch and become weaker, losing their elasticity, allowing for more blood to pool.
Bulging varicose veins can cause several symptoms:
- Feeling of heaviness in your legs
Spider veins are small, wisp-like veins that are often blue, red or purple, and appear just underneath the surface of the skin. They most often appear on the legs, but can also appear on the face.
Unfortunately, spider veins affect up to 60% of Americans as they age; however, certain factors increase your chances of developing them:
- Prior trauma or injury
- Family history
When poor circulation in the legs is at play, people may begin to experience itching, burning, or numbness in their legs. This may be the result of inflammation and a loss of oxygen being delivered through the veins to the skin’s surface.
It may also be caused by a condition known as stasis dermatitis.
Stasis dermatitis is inflammation of the skin, resulting from poor circulation. It most commonly occurs in the lower legs and ankles where blood has pooled.
Pooled blood in the legs creates pressure in the veins This pressure damages the small blood vessels, called capillaries, allowing blood to leak out into nearby tissue. As a result, blood cells, fluid, and proteins build-up, causing the legs and ankles to swell.
It is believed that build-up of proteins in the skin may contribute to redness and itching in the skin.
When the valves are not functioning correctly, blood flows backward, and pools in the lower legs and ankles. When this happens, the pressure is created inside the veins, which eventually allows blood to leak into surrounding tissues. A build-up of blood, fluids, and proteins creates swelling in the legs and ankles, also known as edema.
Leg ulcers (open sores) occur in the more advanced stage of venous insufficiency. The veins in the legs are no longer pushing blood back up to the heart properly, allowing blood to flow backward into the veins of the legs and feet, creating a build-up of pressure inside the veins.
When this is left untreated, the increased pressure of blood and excess fluid prevents nutrients and oxygen from reaching tissues and can cause an open sore to form on the skin. They are typically found on the leg and above the ankle.
- Swelling and heaviness in the legs
- Cramping in the legs
- Itching and tingling
- Red, purple or brown patches of hardened skin
Later On-Set Symptoms
- A shallow sore with a red base
- Unevenly shaped borders
- The skin surrounding sore may be shiny, tiny or warm to the touch
- Leg pain
- If infected, there may be a foul odor from the site of the sore
When varicose veins are becoming more pronounced, leg cramping may be a more frequent symptom:
Painful symptoms may also occur alongside additional symptoms:
- Burning, throbbing, muscle cramping and swelling in lower legs
- Pain that increases with prolonged sitting or standing
- Itching around veins
- Achiness or heaviness in legs
- Skin discoloration around veins
Often, venous insufficiency may create a feeling of restlessness or need to move the legs. Also, legs may feel heavy and fatigued as a result of poor circulation.
Temporary relief may be found in elevating your legs and shifting positions and moving your legs until symptoms subside.
Discoloration of the leg, ankle, or foot is often a sign of diseased or damaged veins which are not allowing the blood to return from the leg to the heart efficiently.
The result is blood that pools in the legs that can cause skin discoloration of the lower leg called Hemosiderin Deposits.
Hemosiderin is a brownish pigment that is the result of brown down hemoglobin. The discoloration may look brownish or purple.
Without proper treatment, more severe health problems may arise, such as leg ulcers or blood clots.
Blood clots arise when parts of blood thicken and form a gel-like mass. Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is when a blood clot forms in one of the deep veins inside your body, usually in the legs. Swelling and pain are the most noticeable symptoms; however, some people have no symptoms at all.
DVTs can occur when you have been sitting for prolonged periods or confined to a bed. It is essential to move and stretch your body often to help promote blood circulation.
As venous insufficiency progresses, people begin to notice sensations of tired, heavy, and fatigued legs towards the end of the day or if they have been standing for prolonged periods.
These sensations are rooted in the build-up of blood that is not correctly being returned to the heart, causing pressure in the veins and surrounding tissues.
How is Vein Disease Treated?
Vein disease is a progressive condition; therefore, the sooner treatment is obtained, the faster you are on your way to better health. Additionally, seeking prompt treatment lessens your chance of developing a more severe vein condition if left untreated.
Treatment for vein disease is typically straightforward and minimally invasive. Most procedures are done in the office and performed without sedation. Many people find that they can return to their regular routine and activities, including work.
Also, technology is developing and improving every day. The latest technology eliminates the need for needles and prolonged use of compression stockings.
Various factors are taken into consideration when determining the best treatment plan:
- Overall health and medical history
- Signs and symptoms
- The severity of vein disease
- Personal expectations for treatment
- Personal opinion or preference
Several lifestyle changes can address and relieve symptoms of vein disease:
- Avoid standing or sitting for prolonged periods
- Increase exercise and daily activity
- Maintain a healthy weight and diet
- Leg elevation
- Compression stockings
When lifestyle changes are simply not enough, there are several safe, effective, treatments available to treat your symptoms and prevent them from becoming more severe.
Radio-Frequency Ablation (VENOUS Closure or The Venefit Procedure)
Now known as The Venefit Procedure, Radio-Frequency Ablation technique treats varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency. Enlarged varicose veins are targeted by using radiofrequency energy to heat and shrink the vein, ultimately reducing the appearance and increasing blood flow to nearby, healthy veins.
This procedure is performed in an office and typically takes no longer than 45 minutes. As a patient, you can expect to return to normal activities immediately.
VenaSeal Closure System
VenaSeal uses advanced medical adhesive to effectively and safely close a diseased vein segment.
There is no requirement for anesthesia, no risk of thermal injury, and patients can anticipate quickly returning to the ordinary course of activities. Also, compression stockings are not needed.
Sclerotherapy is a safe, nonsurgical treatment often used to eliminate unsightly spider veins.
Additionally, varicose veins may be treated by Sclerotherapy. This therapy involves injecting a solution (“sclerosant”) or foam directly into the varicose veins or spider veins. The solution will work to close off diseased veins with abnormal valves. As a result, the vein will shrink, collapse, and gradually fade away.
Sclerotherapy also offers the benefit of treating underlying feeder or reticular veins, not addressed by laser.
Patients often prefer this therapy as it is fast, painless, and extremely effective. More than one session is usually required to achieve the best results.
On average, most individuals will need between 2 to 5 sessions.
Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA)
EVLA, also known as VenaCure EVLT, is minimally invasive and safely treats varicose veins with targeted laser therapy.
A tiny incision is made to allow placement of a small optic fiber directly into the diseased vein. EVLA treats the vein from the inside out by delivering heat that collapses veins with unhealthy valves. Eventually, the unhealthy veins are absorbed by your body, allowing for improved circulation.
The procedure is safe, short, and does not require general anesthesia. Patients report relatively painless recoveries.
Spider Vein Laser Treatment
Known as Vari-Lite, this procedure targets facial spider veins by using a focused beam of light that safely penetrates the skin to destroy unsightly blood vessels.
Vari-Lite is painless, extremely safe, and highly effective.
For some patients, Ambulatory Phlebectomy is the appropriate treatment for enlarged bulging veins that are close to the skin’s surface. This procedure will require local anesthesia. A small incision or needle puncture is made where the vein will be removed from.
The benefits may be a better cosmetic outcome and a faster resolution of symptoms.
Schedule a Consultation with RestoreMD Today
There are several treatment plans available for your unique symptoms. Our board-certified cardiologist works with individuals every day to help alleviate their discomfort, allowing them to look and feel the way they deserve.