If you’ve been diagnosed with vein disease, you probably have questions. For instance, you may wonder, What does vein disease look like? Is it serious? How do I know if I have venous insufficiency? What treatments are available?
Fortunately, our specialists at USA Vein Clinics are available to help you find answers. After all, being diagnosed with vein disease can be stressful, confusing, and even overwhelming. Rest assured that we are here to help you improve your overall vein health.
Along with explaining the ins and outs of vein disease, we also want to educate our patients about minimally-invasive, outpatient vein treatment. Vein treatment can reduce or eliminate pain and discomfort due to symptomatic varicose veins and other venous conditions.
Below is a list of frequently asked questions about vein disease and vein treatment. If you have additional questions, please give us a call or schedule an appointment online.
Questions About Vein Disease
What is vein disease?
Vein disease is the underlying cause of varicose veins, spider veins, Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), and other venous issues. It is also known by other names, such as venous insufficiency. If you’re wondering, what is vein reflux disease?, this is yet another term for the same condition.
Vein disease occurs when veins are placed under strain due to a variety of factors. Chronic strain can lead to damaged vein valves, which are unable to pump blood efficiently back to your heart. This causes blood to pool in various areas of the body. The lower extremities –– legs, ankles, and feet –– are most commonly affected.
If you have vein disease, you may experience a range of painful and uncomfortable symptoms. The most common ones are leg swelling, cramping, itching, and tingling. Along with causing pain and discomfort, venous insufficiency can also result in dangerous health conditions. These include the development of blood clots and venous ulcers. For some, these issues can be life-threatening.
Fortunately, vein treatment can help reduce or eliminate pain, discomfort, and the risk of serious complications.
What are common vein disease symptoms?
If you have vein disease, you may experience a range of mild, moderate, or severe symptoms. Some patients are surprised to learn that varicose veins are not merely cosmetic. Others ask, do varicose veins itch? (Yes, they often do!) Many more suffer daily limitations due to intense pain, such as when standing. Because vein disease is progressive, your symptoms may worsen over time.
Common vein disease symptoms include:
- Swelling in the legs and ankles
- Tired, aching legs
- Numbness or tingling sensations
- Difficulty standing for long periods
- Non-healing wounds on your legs
- Burning in the calf or thigh
- Leg pain that feels better when you walk or raise your legs
- Itchy, dry skin
If you are experiencing symptoms, seek full evaluation by a medical professional.
What causes varicose veins?
Varicose veins are enlarged, twisted, and often unsightly veins that commonly develop on the legs, ankles, and feet. These veins can also occur in other areas of the body, particularly during pregnancy. If you are wondering, Is varicose veins a disease?, it is not. Instead, varicose veins are caused by underlying vein disease, or venous insufficiency.
Common varicose vein symptoms include:
- Heavy Legs: If you have varicose veins, you may notice that your legs feel heavy, as if you have weights around your ankles.
- Swelling: You may experience swelling near varicose veins in your legs, ankles, or feet. This may be clearly visible, or be more subtle, like noticing tighter shoes.
- Itching and Burning: If you feel itching and burning near raised veins, it may be more than dry skin. Skin problems are common with varicose veins. In extreme cases, skin ulceration can occur and lead to open, non-healing wounds.
- Pain Relief When Legs are Elevated: Does your pain subside when you elevate your legs at the end of the day? This is another common sign of varicose veins and should be evaluated by your doctor.
There are many potential reasons why people develop varicose veins. Some are hereditary, whereas others can sometimes be controlled with healthy lifestyle choices. You may be at increased risk for varicose veins if you are:
- A close relative of someone with vein disease
- Obese or overweight
- Over 50
- In a job that requires prolonged standing or sitting
- Hypertensive (high blood pressure)
What causes spider veins?
Spider veins are thin, colorful veins near the skin’s surface that tend to develop in a weblike pattern. They can occur anywhere on the body, but common sites are the lower extremities and the face. Although many believe that spider veins are merely a cosmetic issue, their presence is a sign of underlying vein disease.
You may not notice any symptoms of spider veins other than their telltale appearance. However, you may experience one or more of the following issues:
- Swelling in the affected area
- Leg restlessness, especially at night
- Sensation of tingling, numbness, burning, or itching
- Tenderness or redness surrounding impacted veins
If you have symptomatic spider veins, we recommend visiting your doctor or a vein specialist.
Is vein disease common?
Yes, vein disease is common. About 30 million individuals in the United States are believed to suffer from this health condition. Varicose veins may affect up to 30 percent of the adult population. Unfortunately, only a small fraction of those affected seek treatment.
At USA Vein Centers, we believe there is no need to live with vein pain and discomfort. We also want people to understand that vein disease can progress and lead to dangerous health conditions. Lastly, we strive to share key information about our minimally-invasive, non-surgical vein treatment options.
How dangerous is venous insufficiency?
Vein disease can lead to life-threatening health conditions. If you have venous insufficiency, you are at increased risk for developing:
Blood clots occur when blood gets thicker and clumps together. There are two main types of blood clots. The one that most commonly appears in vein patients is Superficial Thrombophlebitis (ST). ST symptoms include pain, redness and swelling. Although ST is not generally considered dangerous, it nonetheless can be serious and requires treatment. ST can also increase your risk for Deep Vein Thrombosis.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), a more severe type of blood clot, develops when your veins are placed under strain or injured. These dangerous, deep blood clots can break off and travel to the lungs, resulting in Pulmonary Embolism (PE). PE is a blockage of one of the pulmonary arteries of your lung.
DVT is considered a medical emergency and can be life-threatening. You should contact your doctor immediately and head directly to the emergency room if you experience:
- Swelling in the leg
- A feeling of warmth in the affected area
- Skin redness
- Pain or tenderness in your lower body, such as a cramp
Another potential complication of vein disease is the development of venous ulcers. Venous ulcers are open, non-healing wounds that typically form near varicose veins on the legs, ankles, or feet. They are considered dangerous because they can cause skin and blood infections.
Venous ulcers require treatment. If you have varicose veins and notice open wounds nearby, contact your doctor as soon as possible. Also, keep an eye out for:
- Itchy, dry skin on the legs
- Cracked or dry skin that may open up
- Hardened skin around the ulcer
- Red, purple, or brown color on the skin
What causes vein disease?
There are a number of causes and risk factors for vein disease. Although some can be mitigated with certain lifestyle modifications, others are beyond your control.
Risk factors include:
- Genetics: If you have a close relative with vein issues, you may wonder, are varicose veins genetic? Unfortunately, they are. A family history of vein disease means that you are more likely to develop varicose veins.
- Age: If you are over age 50, you may also be at increased risk. Our veins naturally become strained as we age.
- Sex: Women are more likely than men to develop varicose veins. In part, this may be due to pregnancy, another common risk factor.
- Pregnancy: The development of varicose veins during pregnancy occurs due to increased blood flow and an influx of hormones. Malfunctioning veins can develop not only in the lower extremities, but also in the pelvic region.
- Obesity: Excess weight places undue strain on veins, which can lead to damage and malfunctioning veins over time.
- Inactivity: Sedentary individuals are more likely to have poor blood circulation, which can cause varicose veins and other health problems.
- Smoking: Along with many other health risks, cigarette smoke can cause your veins to narrow. This makes it more difficult for them to efficiently pump blood back to your heart.
- Other health conditions: Uncontrolled diabetes and high blood pressure also put you at increased risk for vein disease.
- Prolonged periods of standing and sitting: If you have a job that requires a lot of standing or sitting, you are more likely to develop venous insufficiency. We recommend taking frequent breaks to move around.
Can I prevent varicose veins?
Unfortunately, you may not be able to entirely prevent getting varicose veins; you may, however, be able to reduce some of your risk factors. If you are considered high-risk, we recommend initial evaluation and close follow-up monitoring by a vein specialist.
Do varicose veins go away on their own?
Varicose veins don’t just disappear without treatment, but you can take certain measures to reduce your risks of getting varicose veins in the first place. You may also be able to avoid yours worsening over time.
How can I help varicose veins?
There are several things you can do to reduce your varicose vein risks and keep current symptoms from getting worse.
Our expert recommendations on how to help varicose veins include:
- Lose excess weight
- Eat a healthy, well-rounded diet
- Limit alcohol and caffeine
- Exercise regularly
- Don’t smoke
- Manage other health conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes
- Avoid standing or sitting for prolonged periods
- Ask your doctor about wearing compression socks
Do varicose veins go away after pregnancy?
Although most varicose veins don’t just go away on their own, there are some possible exceptions. For one, varicose veins are common during pregnancy, but often go away after childbirth.
It is important to note that vein treatment cannot be performed during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. If you have varicose veins before getting pregnant, you may want to receive treatment in advance to avoid increased symptoms.
Are varicose veins a sign of heart disease?
The development of varicose and spider veins is not a sign of heart disease, but rather underlying vein disease.
However, heart disease and vein disease have several contributing risk factors in common, including obesity and inactivity. To help avoid the potentially devastating effects of either disease, we recommend the following:
- Maintain a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI)
- Eat a healthy, well-rounded diet
- Exercise regularly
If you are concerned about your heart health, please visit a cardiac specialist.
When do varicose veins need treatment?
If you are suffering from the effects of vein disease, you may be wondering, when do varicose veins need treatment? We generally recommend vein treatment early on, so you can avoid painful symptoms later. Early treatment can also reduce your risks of developing dangerous, related conditions like blood clots and venous ulcers.
If you’re wondering when to worry about varicose veins, we suggest contacting a vein specialist. Be sure to discuss the following:
- Pain and discomfort
- Leg swelling
- Skin issues
- Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
Questions About Vein Treatment
When should I consider vein treatment?
If you are experiencing painful or uncomfortable vein symptoms, it is probably time to look into vein treatment. We usually recommend treatment early on to avoid unnecessary suffering or the development of serious health conditions.
Some patients wish to treat varicose or spider veins because of cosmetic reasons.
At whatever point, and for whatever reason, you are ready to learn more about treatment, we are here for you.
What are my vein treatment options?
If you are considering vein treatment, the first step is to schedule an initial consultation with a vein treatment specialist. Your doctor will work with you to develop an appropriate treatment plan for your unique situation. Although both surgical and non-surgical treatment methods exist, the good news is that surgical means are rarely necessary.
Our specialists at USA Vein Clinics offer minimally-invasive, outpatient vein treatment. The benefits of a non-surgical approach include:
- No hospital stay
- Shorter recovery
- Less pain, if any
How does minimally-invasive vein treatment work?
While there are several different treatments available, the goal of all of them is similar. Minimally-invasive vein treatment aims to collapse the diseased vein(s), then divert blood flow to healthy, surrounding ones.
Treatment takes between 15 to 30 minutes and is performed as an outpatient procedure. You can return to most normal activities immediately afterward.
Although non-surgical treatment is considered highly effective, some veins may require multiple procedures or a combination of techniques.
What types of varicose vein treatments are available?
At USA Vein Clinics, we offer four types of minimally-invasive, outpatient vein treatments. All of our methods aim to seal off the diseased vein(s). Blood flow is then diverted to healthy, surrounding veins.
- Endovenous Laser Therapy (EVLT): EVLT is considered the Gold Standard for treating vein disease symptoms. This laser-based treatment involves the insertion of a very thin laser fiber into the diseased vein using ultrasound for guidance. They will use laser energy to heat and close the malfunctioning vein.
- ClariVein: This method is also referred to as mechanochemical ablation. It is a catheter-based treatment that uses mechanical and chemical methods to treat the damaged area.
- Varithena Foam Treatment: During this treatment, a Varithena device generates a microfoam intended to irritate the diseased vein. One of our vein experts injects the Varithena foam into affected veins using ultrasound guidance.
- Ultrasound-Guided Sclerotherapy: One of our specialized interventional radiologists uses ultrasound to map your diseased veins. They inject a sclerosant solution into affected veins. This solution thickens the vessel’s blood; the walls become irritated. The vein collapses and becomes sealed off from blood flow.
Your vein specialist will help determine which method is best for you.
How are spider veins treated?
Most spider veins are treated with Visual Sclerotherapy. Similar to Ultrasound-Guided Sclerotherapy, this procedure involves injecting affected veins with a solution called a sclerosant, which closes them off. Afterward, your visible veins should fade away as blood redirects to healthier ones.
Is a hospital stay required?
Our vein treatments are performed as outpatient procedures at dozens of USA Vein Clinics nationwide. You can leave immediately after treatment and return to most regular activities.
What happens during an initial consultation?
During your initial visit, we will first discuss your full medical history. We recommend that you prepare a list of current medications and health conditions in advance. Be sure to mention previous vein treatments.
Your doctor will also conduct a physical exam. This may include an ultrasound, when necessary. Finally, they will make a personalized recommendation and you can schedule your treatment.
What should I know about the day of treatment?
First of all, we want to assure you that most of our procedures take only 15-30 minutes. Sedation is not required and most patients can drive themselves home.
You should wear loose, comfortable clothing and avoid shaving or using lotions. Some individuals prefer to wear shorts.
After treatment, you will be given compression socks to wear home and around the clock for the first 24 hours. Beyond that, wear as advised by your doctor to promote proper healing.
What is involved in vein treatment recovery?
At USA Vein Clinics, vein treatment recovery is generally quick and often painless.
- You can resume most activities immediately following treatment
- We recommend short, frequent walks to aid healing
- Avoid strenuous exercise, bathing, and swimming for several days
- Wear compression socks for several days to several weeks
Within weeks to months, you should experience:
- The ability to stand for longer periods of time
- The ability to walk for greater distances
- Reduced pain
- Reduced swelling
- Improved quality of life
Are there any treatment risks involved?
At USA Vein Centers, you are in the hands of experts. Although all medical procedures have some inherent risks, vein treatment is considered low risk. While unusual, post-treatment complications include infection, excessive bleeding, and the formation of blood clots.
It is normal to have some bruising, discoloration, and tenderness in the affected area.
Contact your doctor immediately if you experience:
- High fever
- Breathing problems, such as shortness of breath or wheezing
- Severe pain that keeps you from completing your daily activities
- Swelling that gets worse
- Signs of infection in the treated area (warmth, bleeding, redness, or fluid discharge)
Does health insurance cover varicose vein treatment?
When it comes to paying for treatment, we have good news. Generally, most major health insurance plans cover varicose vein treatment. Please contact us to discuss your coverage details.
Vein Treatment at USA Vein Clinics
When it comes to learning about vein disease and treatment, there is undoubtedly a lot of information to take in. We encourage you to schedule an initial consultation to decide if minimally-invasive, outpatient vein treatment is right for you. You can visit us at one of many locations across the country or opt for a telemedicine visit.
Wherever we meet, we look forward to helping you resolve your vein disease symptoms.