Venous disease is an umbrella term for conditions that affect the vein network in the legs, including one of the most common problems – superficial venous reflux. The American Heart Association reports between five to 30 percent of the adult population have symptoms of this condition such as varicose veins.
What is Superficial Venous Reflux?
It is the veins job to move blood to the heart for oxygenation. This is difficult in the peripheral areas like the legs because the veins work against the force of gravity. Valves built into their walls aid in the process. As the muscle tissue in the vein walls contracts, the valves open to allow blood to move towards the heart. When the muscle relaxes, the valves snap shut, trapping the blood.
For some people, this system breaks down as a normal part of aging. The vein walls lose their elasticity and they stretch out like an old sweater. This allows the valves to gap just enough that blood seeps out and pools around the next closed vein, causing swelling. The vein becomes engorged and no longer functions.
What Causes Venous Disease?
The exact cause of venous disease varies, but there are some known risk factors.
- Age – Your risk increases as you get older
- Gender – The condition is more common in women
- Weight – It tends to affect those who are overweight
- Physical activity – Lack of exercise increases your risk
- Smoking – It affects people who smoke more often
- Genetics – It tends to run in families
What are the Symptoms?
One of the most common symptoms is varicose veins. Engorged veins swell enough that you can see them if they are close to the skin. Some may become clotted, a condition called phlebitis, so they are hot and painful. Other symptoms include:
- Heaviness in the legs
- Restless legs, especially at night
- Leg fatigue
- Muscle cramps
In severe cases, sores may open up around the ankles.
What is the Treatment for Venous Disease?
A vein clinic has several options available to treat this condition. The goal is to eliminate the diseased vein completely and force the body to reroute blood flow utilizing healthy veins.
For superficial varicose veins, vascular surgeons use the VNUS procedure, or Venefit, to heat the walls of the vein until it collapses. This outpatient surgery is performed at a vein treatment center and you can resume your normal activity in a day or two. Venefit requires only a tiny incision, so there is little pain or scarring.
Sclerotherapy is the standard treatment for small varicose and spider veins. The vein doctor injects a solution into the problem veins to close it off.
With that advancement in vein technology, there is no reason anyone has to live with venous disease. It takes just minutes to improve the vascular health of your legs.