Patients who suffer from venous disease sometimes have primarily cosmetic concerns. However, vein doctors often hear that complications such as as varicose veins and venous ulcers cause these individuals significant discomfort. Understanding the risk factors and symptoms of this condition can help patients evaluate their options.
A Vein Doctor Describes This Condition
Vein specialists known as vascular surgeons also call this condition venous reflux disease and, in some patients, chronic venous insufficiency. According to the Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, almost 25 million Americans experience complications from this disorder. More than 40 percent of U.S. women could develop varicose vein problems by the time the reach their fifties.
Knowing a bit about the role of veins is important to understanding disease risk factors and symptoms. While arteries transport blood with oxygen in it from the heart to other parts of the body, the job of veins is returning blood that needs oxygen to the heart.
Veins are essentially hollow tubes that contain valves. The Cleveland Clinic notes that the purpose of these valves is to keep blood flowing toward the heart. If a valve fails to function or is damaged as the result of venous reflux disease, it is unlikely to close properly. The result is leaking blood that pools behind it and that exerts pressure on the vein, particularly in a leg. This causes the vein to dilate, resulting in possible complications such as spider veins, varicose veins, phlebitis, deep vein thrombosis, and ulcers.
The University of California San Francisco Department of Surgery cites these common risk factors:
- Varicose veins in the family
- Being obese or overweight
- Insufficient exercise
- Prolonged sitting or standing
- Being female and more than 50
Vascular surgeons note these typical symptoms:
- Lower-leg swelling that persists
- Pain or a sensation of aching, cramping, or heaviness in a leg
- Blue-tone skin discoloration in the ankle area
- Appearance of venous ulcers that are sometimes also infected
Diagnosis and Treatment at a Vein Treatment Center
To make a diagnosis of venous reflux disease, vein doctors perform a physical examination and review the medical history of patients at a vein clinic. One helpful diagnostic tool is duplex ultrasound to determine how blood is flowing and evaluate the structure of veins in the leg. Magnetic resonance venography combines computer technology, a magnet, contrast dye, and radio frequencies to create images of the body and allow a vein doctor to visualize targeted vessels.
Patients have a number of outpatient therapies available when they seek treatment at a vein clinic, depending on the complications they experience. Conservative measures include wearing compression stockings and making lifestyle changes such as losing weight. Sclerotherapy and VeinGogh Ohmic Thermolysis procedures treat spider veins. The Venefit procedure and ambulatory phlebectomy effectively eliminate varicose vessels.