Many patients do not realize that they might be suffering from leg vein disease when they spot bulging leg veins. Many factors affect vein health and lead to spider or varicose veins, cosmetic concerns, and medical problems. Fortunately, a number of treatment options conveniently eliminate these unwanted vessels.
Overview of Varicose Veins and Spider Veins
Problems with vein health in the legs can result in two types of abnormal veins, varicose and spider veins. The chain of events leading up to each is similar.
The job of leg veins is transporting blood from the extremities to the heart to pick up oxygen. The Cleveland Clinic notes that valves within veins help keep blood flowing upward against gravity. When a valve is injured or defective, blood pools behind it. This stretches vein walls, causing them to weaken and enlarge.
The result could be a varicose vessel, a blue or purple ropelike vein bulging under the skin. Alternatively, it could be a spider vein, a much smaller and flatter red or blue vein or cluster of veins located closer to the skin’s surface.
A spider vein issue is almost always a cosmetic concern. However, a varicose vein issue might lead to pain, leg vein disease, and complications such as skin ulcers and blood clots.
Researchers have not found the exact cause of varicose vessels or their spidery cousins. Risk factors for both include:
- Family history
- Extended periods of standing
- Increased abdominal pressure from conditions such as liver disease
- Sitting with legs crossed
- Birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy
- Pregnancy-related hormonal changes
- Excess weight
- Vein injury
- Blood clot history
- Tight clothing
Fortunately, vascular surgeons offer a number of outpatient vein treatment alternatives.
Vein Treatment Options
Many patients manage a leg vein problem with conservative treatments such as wearing compression stockings, shedding extra pounds, or altering lifestyle choices. When conservative measures fail to control leg vein disease and associated symptoms, vein specialists assess each patient and recommend a more appropriate treatment. The University of Rochester Medical Center cites these minimally invasive procedures:
- VenaSeal Closure System: This technology permanently seals superficial varicose leg veins with a medical superglue. Wearing compression stockings after treatment is unnecessary.
- VeinGogh technology: This procedure is useful for eliminating facial and leg spider veins. A tiny needle delivers a burst of energy to each targeted vessel.
- Micophlebectomy: The vascular surgeon removes a superficial varicose vein through tiny punctures in the skin.
- Sclerotherapy: It is the most common spider vein treatment and is sometimes appropriate for small varicose vessels. A special substance injected into a vein causes it to seal off and disappear.
- Radiofrequency ablation and endovenous laser treatment: Both utilize heat to destroy an abnormal vein and can benefit patients with venous insufficiency considered moderate to severe.