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Varicose veins are enlarged veins that are visible through the skin and may appear as blue or purple twisted, knot-like cords. Varicose veins can occur anywhere in the body, but are more commonly found on the legs.
Spider veins, a milder type of varicose veins, are smaller than varicose veins and often look like a sunburst or "spider web." They are red or blue in color and are commonly found on the face and legs, just under the surface of the skin.
Varicose veins are caused by increased blood pressure inside the superficial leg veins. Two main types of veins are present in the legs. Superficial veins are near the surface of the skin, whereas deep veins are located in the muscle tissue. Varicose veins occur in the superficial veins. In contrast, deep veins lead to the vena cava, a large vein that transports blood to the heart.
The blood in the veins of the legs works against gravity in order to return upwards to the heart. The blood is moved up towards the heart by one-way valves in the veins. When the leg muscles contract and squeeze the deep veins, the valves inside the veins open. When the leg muscles relax, the valves close, preventing blood from flowing backward.
When the one-way valves become weakened or damaged, blood can collect in the veins, causing them to become enlarged. Sitting or standing for long periods can cause blood to pool in the leg veins, increasing the pressure within the veins. In persons who are prone to varicose veins, the veins can stretch as a result of increased pressure. This stretching of the veins may weaken the walls of the veins and damage the valves. Thick varicose veins or spider veins may result.
While varicose veins are not considered a severe medical condition, they can be uncomfortable and can lead to more serious problems such as phlebitis (inflammation in the leg) or blood clot. Varicose veins can also be a cosmetic concern to some people. Because they occur in superficial veins, they are not generally linked to a serious condition called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). However, with severe varicose veins, there is a small increased chance of developing DVT. DVT requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms of DVT include sudden, severe leg swelling and can result in blood clots that travel to the brain or the heart.
About 15% of adults in the US have varicose veins. The risk of varicose veins is strongly related to age and gender. The following are suggested risk factors for varicose veins:
Although these factors increase a person's risk, they do not necessarily cause the disease. Some people with one or more risk factors never develop varicose veins, while others develop them and have no known risk factors. But, knowing your risk factors to any disease can help to guide you into the appropriate actions, including changing behaviors and being clinically monitored.
The following are the most common symptoms of varicose veins. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms of varicose veins may include:
Severe varicose veins may eventually produce long-term mild swelling that can result in more serious skin and tissue problems, such as ulcers and nonhealing sores.
The symptoms of varicose veins may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.
In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, the diagnosis of varicose veins may include any, or a combination, of the following:
Medical treatment may not be necessary if there are no symptoms. However, varicose veins may sometimes worsen without treatment. Treatment for varicose veins involves both surgical and nonsurgical approaches.
Nonsurgical methods for varicose veins treatment include:
Surgical approaches to varicose veins treatment include:
The Beaumont Vein Centers are located at:
Beaumont Vein Center, Sterling Heights44344 Dequindre Rd., Suite 590Sterling Heights, MI 48314Phone: 248-964-2099
Beaumont Vein Center, Grosse Pointe Farms 87 KerchevalGrosse Pointe Farms, MI 48236Phone: 313-473-1084
Vein services are also available at:
Beaumont Northpointe Heart Center27901 Woodward Ave. Suite 300Berkley, MI 48072Phone: 248-545-0070
Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak3601 W. 13 MileRoyal Oak, MI 48073Phone: 248-898-7456