It is estimated that more than 80 million Americans suffer from some form of venous disorder. Varicose veins differ from spider veins. Varicose veins are bulging veins that are larger than spider veins, typically 3 mm or more in diameter. Moreover, varicose veins are deeper than spider veins.
Varicose veins may be of primarily cosmetic concern, but can cause pain, leg heaviness, fatigue, itching, night cramps, restless legs at night and leg swelling. Moreover, severe varicose veins can compromise the nutrition of the skin and lead to eczema, inflammation or even ulceration of the lower leg. In addition, varicose veins increase the risk for phlebitis. Venous problems in the legs usually present as varicose veins and spider veins.
Signs of true Varicose veins include
- Bulging Unsightly Veins
- Eczema (Dermatitis)
- Pigmentation changes
- Swelling (Edema)
Symptoms experienced by the patient include
- Tiredness or Achiness (particularly upon standing for long periods)
- Skin irritation
- Swelling Symptoms may occur before the actual appearance of varicosities.
Advanced or long-standing cases may develop phlebitis or painful inflammation of the vein, bleeding, ulcerations or venous thrombosis. Symptomatic venous disease affects the quality of life. Studies show that 41% of women between the ages of 40 and 50 and 72% of women over 60 develop varicose veins.
Spider veins or Telangectasias are usually found on the legs and sometimes on the face as well. Spider veins are caused by the dilation of a small (less than 1 mm.) group of blood vessels near the skin’s surface and typically take on one of two basic patterns: red or purple blood vessels forming true “spiders” as a group of veins radiating outward from a central point, or they may be simple and separate linear lines. Linear lines are most commonly found on the inner thigh whereas a sunburst pattern is usually found on the outer thigh. There is an association with estrogens and pregnancy, and family members with venous problems increase the chance of developing both spider Telangectasias and true varicose veins.
Varicose veins are different from spider veins in a number of different ways. They arise as swollen or enlarged blood vessels due to a weakening of the vein wall or valves or by backflow of blood from the deep veins to superficial veins in the leg. Varicose veins are ordinarily larger that 2 mm. in diameter, and usually larger than 8mm, and more commonly associated with symptoms described above.
Please be aware that varicose veins are a medical condition that may require medical therapy while spider veins are considered cosmetic. Insurance reimbursement is usually not available for cosmetic skin conditions.
Treatment for spider and varicose veins
A specific treatment plan for your vein problem will be determined with you and our doctors. During your vein consultation your legs will be examined and a complete medical history obtained. A Doppler ultrasound scan may be necessary to correctly determine the type and degree of venous problem. All treatments are minimally invasive and require at most a small injection.
Cutaneous Laser Treatment
Used to treat spider veins which are targeted by high-intensity laser beams and eliminated. This process usually requires several sessions, does not require an anesthetic and is sometimes combined with sclerotherapy. Results are excellent.
Used to treat spider and small varicose veins which are injected with an FDA-approved sclerosant.. The solution causes the vein to close and healthier blood vessels nearby absorb the blood flow of the now closed vein. This process may requires several sessions but does not require an anesthetic. It is sometimes combined with laser treatment for maximum esthetic results.
Tiny incisions along the path of the enlarged vein are used to directly remove the vein. Phlebectomy may be combined with endovenous laser management and results in removal of unsightly veins with minimal scarring. Done in the clinic with a local or topical anesthetic.
Endo-Venous Laser Treatment
Endo-venous laser treatments are a recent development in the armamentarium of the physician experienced in the management of varicose veins. This technique has effectively replaced the surgical procedure of ligation and stripping as a minimally- invasive, office–based procedure requiring only local anesthesia and having no down time. Patients are able to return to work or school the very next day after the procedure
The procedure entails placement of a thin laser fiber under ultrasound guidance into the abnormal vein followed by heating the interior of the vein with applied laser energy. This procedure is well over 90% effective and has few side effects. Our physicians have extensive training in this technique, excellent results with patient satisfaction, and experience with many thousands surgical procedures on veins and the vascular system.