Varicose Veins and Spider Veins

Varicose veins

  • Swollen, twisted, and enlarged veins that develop when healthy vein walls and valves become weak
  • Usually develop on the legs, but also can form in other parts of the body
  • Unsightly and unattractive
  • May cause leg pain, swelling, tingling, and restless legs
  • Typically do not cause medical problems, but can lead to leg swelling, pain, blood clots, and ulcers
  • Follow-up care after treatments

Spider veins

  • Smaller, thinner, milder version of varicose veins
  • Appear close to the surface of the skin
  • Sometimes surround larger varicose veins

Symptoms

Varicose veins

  • Dark-blue or purple appearance
  • Legs that ache or feel tired, tender, burning, throbbing, itchy, or cramped
  • "Bulging" veins that appear raised on the skin surface

Spider veins

  • Tiny groups of red, blue, or purple veins
  • Spider web-like, branch-like, or thin-line patterns

Risks factors for varicose and spider veins

  • Age (varicose veins typically occur as you get older)
  • Gender (women are more likely than men to develop varicose veins)
  • Being overweight
  • Pregnancy
  • History of blood clots in the legs
  • Standing or sitting for long periods of time
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Family history

Diagnosis

  • Varicose veins can be diagnosed by a physical exam.
  • A Duplex ultrasound is performed in the majority of patients.
  • This test uses sound waves to measure blood flow and determine how much blood is flowing backward or pooling in the leg.

Treatments for varicose veins and spider veins

Non-surgical treatments

  • Elevating your legs above your heart several times each day
  • Compression stockings that gently "squeeze" your legs and push blood toward your heart

Medical treatments

  • Microphlebectomy (also known as stab or ambulatory phlebectomy), an outpatient procedure that uses small incisions in the skin to remove varicose veins
  • VenaSeal™ is a minimally invasive procedure that uses a medical adhesive to close damaged (incompetent) veins that are near the surface of the skin of the legs. The use of adhesive—rather than cauterizing (heating) to remove the vein—means less anesthetic is needed and less bruising to surrounding tissue.
  • Venous ablation, a catheter-based outpatient procedure that uses heat (via radiofrequency or laser technology) to close and seal a vein
  • Sclerotherapy, an outpatient procedure that involves injecting a chemical solution directly into the vein, which stops blood flow and causes the vein to collapse and disappear over time:
    • Conventional liquid sclerotherapy
    • Ultrasound-guided foam sclerotherapy