What is vein disease?
Your leg veins have been working your whole life to bring blood back from your feet to your heart. The valves in these veins, which keep blood flowing up toward the heart, can fail over time. As a result, blood refluxes (flows in the wrong direction) and pools in the legs — a condition known as venous insufficiency. In fact, an estimated 50 percent of the population has venous disease.
Venous insufficiency puts abnormal pressure on the walls of the veins, causing them to weaken and become dilated or elongated. When this happens in veins near the surface of the skin, it can result in the appearance of:
- Varicose veins
- Spider veins (thin red and blue veins)
- Reticular veins (green or blue veins under the skin)
Symptoms of Vein Disease
Beyond the unsightly appearance of varicose, reticular and spider veins, chronic venous insufficiency can also cause symptoms including:
- • Aching
- • Heaviness
- • Throbbing
- • Tiredness
- • Itching
- • Night cramps
- • Swelling
For patients with severe disease, these symptoms can greatly impact their quality of life. In these cases, the treatment of vein disease can provide significant relief, in addition to an improved look and feel.
Diagnosing Vein Disease
After discussing your medical history, your physician will complete a physical examination of the lower extremities including checking pulses, evaluating the abnormal veins with a vein light, charting the abnormalities and taking pre-treatment pictures.
The majority of patients will undergo a duplex ultrasound with color Doppler. This non-invasive, painless imaging study identifies venous reflux, determines the patency and anatomy of the superficial and deep venous systems and establishes the pattern of disease. The test takes about a half hour and is performed with the patient standing.
Only after such a thorough examination can your physician tailor an appropriate venous insufficiency treatment plan. This may include different treatment modalities that complement each other and will likely be performed over a few sessions.