Vein Diseases: What are Varicose Veins and Spider Veins?

What are Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins are large, bulging, diseased blood vessels that bulge out from the skin’s surface. They’re often likened to dense masses of knotted, tangled, and twisted ropes that appear blue, purple, or green in color.

Varicose veins are caused by underlying chronic venous insufficiency, a medical condition wherein the valves in your veins malfunction. In healthy leg veins, the valves act as one-way doors, allowing blood to flow towards the heart but not backward due to gravity. When the vein valves malfunction or weaken, gravity makes blood flow backward, eventually accumulating in the leg veins. Over time, the continued accumulation of blood in the leg veins leads to bulging varicose veins.

What are Spider Veins?

Spider veins are dense clusters of small, dilated blood vessels appearing just underneath the skin’s surface. Spider veins can be red, purple, or bluish, and they expand outwards, resembling spider webs.

Spider veins are also caused by the accumulation of blood in the leg veins. In some cases, but not all, spider veins might also indicate underlying chronic venous insufficiency, a medical condition wherein the collapse of your vein valves makes blood accumulate in the leg veins. Your risk of spider veins increases due to pregnancy, age, weight gains, genetic predisposition, sudden hormonal changes, or extended periods of inactivity.

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Vein Disease Symptoms

Rеѕtlеѕѕ lеgѕ ѕуndrоmе (RLS)

Restless legs syndrome, as the name suggests, is a condition wherein your legs are restless. You have a sudden, irresistible, and inexplicable urge to move and shake your legs. This can keep you from sleeping soundly and interfere with your regular activities. Please contact our vein doctors in New Jersey if you have restless legs syndrome. 

In most cases, restless leg syndrome occurs if you’ve been sitting or standing still for long periods of time. However, if the restlessness persists and worsens at the end of the day, you may have underlying vein disease. Chronic venous insufficiency is a circulatory disorder wherein blood accumulates in your leg veins, which, in turn, leads to restless legs.

LEG CRAMPS

Leg cramps are marked by sudden, painful, and involuntary muscular contractions in your thighs, calves, or other parts of your legs. Most people experience leg cramps occasionally, but frequent leg cramps are indicative of deeper problems. Please contact our vein doctors in New Jersey if you have frequent leg cramps, aka “Charley Horse.”

Leg cramps may occur due to an electrolyte imbalance or dehydration. However, if your frequent leg cramps persist despite maintaining a healthy diet and drinking enough water, you may have underlying chronic venous insufficiency. This is a condition wherein your vein valves malfunction and blood accumulates in the leg veins, leading to frequent leg cramps.

LEG HEAVINESS

Leg heaviness is fairly self-explanatory – your legs feel heavy for no discernible reason. Leg heaviness can be caused by numerous factors, but chronic venous insufficiency is the most common cause, especially if it worsens at the end of the day or after long periods of sitting or standing.

Chronic venous insufficiency is a condition wherein the collapse of your vein valves makes blood accumulate in your leg veins. The pressure of excess blood in your veins leads to leg heaviness. The symptoms usually improve with exercise and worsen with heat. If your leg heaviness matches this description, or your leg heaviness is accompanied by spider veins and varicose veins, please contact our vein doctors in New Jersey.

LEG SWELLING

Leg swelling is a condition wherein one or both of your legs appear swollen. This may occur due to various underlying factors, such as high salt intake or chronic medical disorders, such as kidney failure.

However, if your leg swelling worsens at the end of the day or after long periods of inactivity, you may have underlying chronic venous insufficiency. This is a condition wherein blood accumulates in your leg veins, leading to leg swelling. Please contact our vein doctors in New Jersey if you have mild to severe leg swelling.

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Causes of Vein Disease

Chronic Venous Insufficiency

Chronic venous insufficiency is a circulatory disorder wherein blood accumulates in your leg veins due to malfunctioning vein valves.

In healthy veins, the vein valves act as one-way doors. They resist the force of gravity, ensuring blood only flows towards the heart and not backward. However, factors like age, hormonal changes, weight fluctuations, and pregnancy can weaken the vein valves, making blood flow backward. Over time, blood accumulates in the leg veins, leading to spider veins, varicose veins, leg heaviness, and other symptoms.

The most common and visible symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency include spider veins and varicose veins. However, other warning signs of vein disease include restless leg syndrome, leg heaviness, frequent leg cramps, and leg swelling.

Symptoms of Vein Disease

The symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency include spider veins, varicose veins, profuse bleeding due to excess dilation, leg heaviness, restless leg syndrome, throbbing leg veins, frequent leg cramps, leg ulcers (non-healing wounds on the legs), skin discoloration, and deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in the leg veins).

Spider veins and varicose veins can be treated using non-surgical procedures. However, you should only consult reliable vein clinics in New Jersey led by vein doctors specializing in the latest minimally invasive vein treatments. Your vein doctor may perform sclerotherapy for spider vein removal, i.e., injecting a sclerosant medicine into the spider veins to make them fade away from the skin’s surface. Meanwhile, radiofrequency ablation and endovenous laser ablation are suitable treatment options for varicose veins and underlying chronic venous insufficiency. Your vein doctor will curate the ideal vein treatment plan for you.

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