Disorders

Spider Veins

Spider veins are close to the skin’s surface, blue or purple in color, and may appear small, threadlike and wispy. They are commonly on the legs and face and are considered a cosmetic condition.

Reticular Veins

Reticular veins are dilated blue and green veins beneath the skin’s surface. These veins are enlarged due to an increase in pressure and can be the underlying problem of spider veins. They are usually considered a cosmetic problem since the medium size veins do not lead to substantial medical symptoms or complications.

Varicose Veins

What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are abnormal superficial veins that develop in the soft tissue beneath the skin. These veins are painful and appear swollen and knotted. They can form anywhere on the body, but generally the veins in the legs and thighs have a higher tendency of becoming varicosed. These abnormal veins do not transport blood back to the heart efficiently; therefore, they can be removed without causing problems. In fact, removal can improve the venous circulation.

What causes varicose veins?
Valves within the veins prevent backflow of deoxygenated blood and keep it moving to the heart. While many theories exist as to why varicosities occur in veins, the consensus is that defective/damaged valves are to blame. When a person with poorly functioning valves stands up, the blood flow actually reverses and flows down the superficial veins when it should be flowing up toward the heart. The increased pressure put on the superficial veins by the backflow causes varicosities.

Risk Factors

  • Prolonged standing
  • Obesity
  • Family history
  • Straining
  • Prior surgery or trauma to the leg
  • Age
  • Pregnancy – due to the increased blood volume associated with pregnancy, varicosities can occur. Additionally, added pressure on the veins in the legs by the weight of the growing uterus and the relaxation effects of estrogen and progesterone on the vein walls contribute to the development of varicose veins.

Symptoms

The development of varicose veins is usually gradual and progressive. They not only cause a cosmetic concern, but also approximately 50% of those with varicose leg veins are bothered by symptoms such as:

  • Feelings of leg fatigue, aches, burning and pains, especially after prolonged standing
  • Night cramps
  • Leg and ankle swelling
  • Increase in symptoms during the menstrual cycle

Prevention

  • Elevate your legs when possible, keeping your feet positioned higher than heart level.
  • Maintain your ideal body weight to reduce excess pressure on your legs.
  • Exercise daily. Walking, climbing stairs, cycling and swimming keep your calf muscles in motion to activate the calf muscle pump.
  • Move your legs frequently. Flexing your ankles periodically will pump the blood out of your legs (simulating walking). During periods of prolonged sitting or standing flex your ankles 10 times and repeat this every 10 minutes.
  • Avoid prolonged sitting and standing. On long car or plane trips activate your calf muscle pump by moving your feet up and down frequently as described above. You should also consider stopping for short walks every few hours.
  • Wear support compression hose.
Facial Spider Veins (Telangiectasia)

What are they?
Facial spider veins, or telangiectasia, are dilated superficial blood vessels in the face and neck.

What causes them?
Facial spider veins are caused by genetics.

How are they treated?
Laser/Light Therapy can be used to treat “spider” veins of the face, trunk and legs, as well as facial flushing and vascular birthmarks. This non-invasive procedure uses intense light to heat the blood inside the vein and damage the vein wall. The body then breaks down and absorbs the damaged vein causing the vein to fade. When healing is complete, the vein is no longer visible. Depending on the size of the vein, one to three treatments may be necessary.