Patient Information

About Vein Care Patient Information

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American College of Phlebology
EVLT® Endovenous Laser Therapy
Society of Interventional Radiology

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It all begins somewhere

The first step in finding the right treatment for damaged veins is finding the source. During your initial visit, the affected areas will be examined to determine if a Duplex Doppler Ultrasound Scan will be necessary. The ultrasound provides a visual window, revealing the diseased, refluxing veins beneath the skin’s surface. VCS can pinpoint the exact cause of varicose and spiders veins and customize an individual treatment plan for each patient – and each damaged vein. Because the problem is dealt with at the source, the treatments are quicker and more effective, and also far less painful than traditional methods.

What are varicose veins?

Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are a very common problem, generally appearing as twisting, bulging rope-like cords on the legs, anywhere from groin to ankle. Varicose veins are usually more uncomfortable and harmful to your health than spider veins. Spider veins are small red, blue or purple veins on the surface of the skin. Varicose veins are larger distended veins that are located somewhat deeper than spider veins. While many people have heard of varicose veins, very few truly understand the underlying cause, and the potential they have for developing into a serious medical problem. Severe varicose veins can compromise the nutrition of the skin and lead to eczema, inflammation and even ulceration of the lower leg.

Veins and arteries, while both part of the circulatory system, function quite differently from each other. “Poor circulation” is a nonspecific term which often refers to arterial blockages. Arteries bring oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the extremities and can be thought of like a tube or hose. Veins, unlike arteries, have one-way valves and channel oxygen-depleted blood back toward the heart. Varicose veins are caused by inefficient, damaged vein valves that don’t close properly, allowing blood to leak back with gravity and pool in the vein. This causes veins to bulge and stretch and result in many unpleasant side effects:

Symptoms of venous insufficiency:

  • pain in the legs
  • feelings of fatigue
  • heaviness
  • aching
  • burning
  • throbbing
  • itching
  • cramping
  • restlessness of the legs
  • leg swelling

Vein disorders are not always visible; diagnostic techniques are important tools in determining the cause and severity of the problem. In addition to a physical examination, non-invasive ultrasound is often used.

What are spider veins?

Spider Veins

Spider veins are tiny red or purple dilated blood vessels that form when veins become enlarged and swollen with stagnant blood.

Though smaller than varicose veins, spider veins are often darker and more noticeable. This is because spider veins are located just below the surface of the skin. More common in women, spider veins may be triggered by pregnancy or hormonal variations and sometimes result in itching, restless legs and minor aches and pains.

Although spider veins are mainly a cosmetic problem, they can also be an indication of more serious vein disease below the surface.

What causes spider and varicose veins?

Factors leading to varicose veins include heredity, gender, pregnancy, age and other factors. Some factors may speed up the development of this disease and make the veins worse, including prolonged standing, obesity, hormone levels, and physical trauma.

Women are more likely to suffer from varicose and spider veins. About 50% of American women may be affected. Hormonal factors including pregnancy, menopause, the use of birth control pills, estrogen, and progesterone affect the disease. It is very common for pregnant women to develop varicose veins. Pregnancy causes increases in hormone levels and blood volume which in turn cause veins to enlarge. In addition, the enlarged uterus causes increased pressure on the veins. Varicose veins due to pregnancy often improve within 3 months after delivery. However, with successive pregnancies, abnormal veins are more likely to remain.