All About
Varicose Veins

The Definition of Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are damaged blood vessels that bulge out of the skin’s surface. They usually look like a dense mass of tangled, twisted, and knotted veins protruding from the skin’s surface. When your vein walls are weakened, they might stretch and dilate outwards because of the excessive accumulation of blood, leading to protruding varicose veins. They’re usually visible on the lower extremities of the body, such as the thighs and buttocks, but they can also appear on other parts of the body. Varicose veins are extremely common, and they’re usually caused by vein disease.

Quick Facts About Varicose Veins

  • Varicose veins are easily spotted — they’re visible in a raised, twisted, or knotted shape.
  • Varicose veins might be reddish, bluish, greenish, or skin-colored.
  • 30% of all adults have a high risk of varicose veins, but women are more likely to experience chronic venous insufficiency than men. Other common risk factors for varicose veins include genetic predisposition, weight changes, aging, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle.
  • Varicose veins are more common on the legs and pelvic region than on other parts.
  • The risk of varicose veins increases if you stand or sit still for long periods.
  • Varicose veins and the underlying vein disease should be treated using minimally invasive spider vein and varicose vein treatments in Maryland.
  • Leaving varicose veins untreated leads to a high risk of infections and deep vein thrombosis.
  • Our vein specialists in Maryland identify and treat venous insufficiency, the root cause of most vein problems. If you notice spider veins, varicose veins, leg heaviness, restless leg syndrome, frequent leg cramps, or other signs and symptoms of venous insufficiency, please contact our Maryland Vein Center without delay.

Risk Factors for Varicose Veins

Varicose veins can happen to anyone, but some factors increase the risk of vein disease and its symptoms. Genetic predisposition is the leading predictor of varicose veins in men and women — individuals whose parents have a history of vein problems have a 90% risk of varicose veins. Women are generally more likely to get varicose veins than men because a higher volume of estrogen and progesterone weakens the vein walls, increasing the risk of vein disease.

For the same reasons, varicose veins are also more common amongst pregnant women and those undergoing hormone changes. The risk of vein disease increases with age, and men over 50 have a high risk of vein disease symptoms. You also have a high risk of vein disease symptoms if you have a sedentary job that involves long periods of sitting or standing still, such as driving, teaching, nursing, or desk jobs.

Symptoms of Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are dense, large, bulging masses of tangled, twisted blood vessels that protrude from the skin’s surface. They indicate excessive blood accumulation in leg veins, leading to leg heaviness, leg pain, and leg discomfort. Some patients don’t experience major symptoms (other than varicose veins), but, in other cases, the visible vein problems might be accompanied by other signs and symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency, the root cause of varicose veins.

Patients visiting Maryland Vein Center for varicose veins usually exhibit these symptoms:

  • Frequent muscle cramps on the legs and calves
  • Large, bulging varicose veins on the skin’s surface
  • Excessive leg heaviness, particularly at the end of the day
  • Leg pain, especially while sitting or standing still for long periods
  • Swelling in the lower extremities of the body, particularly the feet and ankles
  • Increasing leg heaviness as the day progresses
  • Restless leg syndrome, marked by an insatiable urge to shake the legs
  • Venous eczema or stasis dermatitis, marked by itchy skin near the varicose veins
  • Formation of spider veins on the skin’s surface
  • Skin discoloration on the legs, marked by bluish or brown patches of skin
  • Lipodermatosclerosis, marked by an inflammation of fat cells underneath the skin

What Causes Varicose Veins?

To understand the root cause of varicose veins, you must understand how blood vessels function within the body. The human body consists of two types of blood vessels — arteries and veins. The arteries carry oxygenated blood from the heart to other parts of the body, and the veins carry deoxygenated blood from various parts of the body to the heart. The heart then pumps the blood with oxygen and sends it back to other parts of the body via the arteries.

Blood in the leg veins must flow upwards, usually against the force of gravity, to deliver deoxygenated blood to the heart. The veins contain mechanisms known as vein valves that act as one-way doors, allowing blood to flow upwards towards the heart but not backward. Varicose veins occur because of an underlying circulatory disorder known as chronic venous insufficiency, wherein your vein valves collapse and blood flows backward, leading to the accumulation of blood in leg veins.

When the vein valves collapse because of genetic predisposition, aging, underlying medical conditions, and other factors, blood flows backward because of gravity, eventually accumulating in the leg veins. The continued accumulation of blood in leg veins leads to vascular dilation and the weakening of vein walls, which, in turn, leads to spider veins and varicose veins on the skin’s surface. As more blood accumulates, varicose veins become even larger and more prominent.

Varicose Vein Treatments

You have numerous varicose vein treatment options to consider. In the past, varicose veins could only be treated using surgical techniques that involved multiple excisions, hospitalization, and considerable downtime. But modern varicose vein treatments are performed using minimally invasive techniques that conclude within a few minutes, and you can resume your daily activities immediately. The Maryland Vein Center curates a personalized varicose vein treatment plan according to your unique vein anatomy, goals, symptoms, medical history, diagnostic results, and other factors.

Diagnosing Varicose Veins & Curating a Treatment Plan

The Maryland Vein Center believes in treating the root cause of varicose veins — not just the symptoms. During your consultation, our vein doctors will carefully examine your leg veins, review your medical history, discuss your symptoms, and administer duplex ultrasound scans to visualize the blood flow in your leg veins. Our comprehensive diagnostic techniques reveal the presence or absence of underlying vein disease, following which we curate a personalized vein treatment plan. Your varicose vein treatment is designed according to your unique needs.

The Safety of Varicose Vein Treatments

Minimally invasive spider vein and varicose vein treatments are extremely safe and effective. In the past, varicose vein surgeries involved a high risk of side effects and complications, such as infections and deep vein thrombosis. But minimally invasive procedures are conducted via an extremely small incision on the skin’s surface, so the risk of infections and complications is negligible. Furthermore, minimally invasive vein treatments have a nearly perfect success rate —please contact board-certified vein doctors in Maryland to explore your vein treatment options.

Minimally Invasive Vein Treatment Options:

  • Radiofrequency Ablation: Thermal energy channeled via a catheter destroys the diseased vein.
  • Laser Ablation: Laser energy channeled via a catheter destroys the diseased vein
  • Ambulatory Phlebectomy: Superficial varicose veins are extracted via small incisions.
  • Liquid/ Foam Sclerotherapy: A sclerosant medicine is injected into the spider veins and varicose veins to irritate their walls, facilitating their absorption by the body.
  • VenaSeal: A medical-grade adhesive is injected into varicose veins to seal them shut, rerouting accumulated blood into healthier leg veins.
  • ClariVein: A specialized catheter with a rotating wire tip destroys the diseased vein while injecting a sclerosant medicine to fuse it shut.

Please note that the Maryland Vein Center generally recommends radiofrequency ablation followed by sclerotherapy for most patients.