Vein health is important to your overall health. There are several types of leg vein disease, and each causes different signs and symptoms.
As part of the circulatory system, arteries and veins help move blood to deliver oxygen and nutrients to body cells and carry away toxins. Specifically, arteries carry oxygen- and nutrient-rich from the heart to cells of the body, with a little help from gravity. Veins work against gravity to carry away carbon dioxide and other toxins back upwards towards the heart. Valves within the veins open and close to trap the blood in small segments between heartbeats so that the blood does not flow backward.
Leg vein disease can interfere with blood circulation in ways that allow blood to flow backward and down into the lower legs and feet. Fortunately, a vein doctor can treat many types of leg vein disease to improve vein health.
Varicose veins are a chronic vein disease in which veins dilate, or widen, and thicken. The dilated veins enlarge, bloat, and twist near the surface of the skin. Varicose veins do a poor job of controlling blood flow; blood can pool in the lower legs.
Spider veins are dilated capillaries, which are tiny blood vessels, lying just beneath the surface of the skin. This type of vein disease causes small red, purple, or blue blood vessels. Spider veins also do a poor job of controlling blood.
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a very serious type of vein disease in which blood clots form within large veins. DVT tends to develop inside leg veins, but clots can also develop within veins of the pelvis or arms. Left untreated, clots can break free and travel to the lungs.
Leg ulcers, also known as stasis ulcers or vein sores, are painful breaks in the skin that appear on the foot or ankle of someone with a leg vein disease. Blood pooling in the lower legs does a poor job of carrying away toxins that harm skin cells. In time, these skin cells break down to form painful sores. Left untreated, leg ulcers may become infected.
Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) occurs when the walls or valves within leg veins do a poor job of circulating blood up and out of the leg veins. CVI causes blood to accumulate in the veins.
Phlebitis is an inflammation of the veins, often as the result of injury to the blood vessel wall, insufficient blood flow through a vein, or abnormal blood clotting.
To learn more about the various types of leg vein disease, talk to a vein surgeon or other vein health professional.