F.A.Q. Frequently Asked Questions.

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What are varicose veins and spider veins?
The heart pumps blood to supply oxygen and nutrients to the body. Arteries carry blood from the heart towards body parts, while veins carry blood from the body parts back to the heart. As the blood is pumped back to the heart, your veins act as one-way valves to prevent the blood from flowing backwards. If the one-way valve becomes weak, some blood can leak back into the vein, collect there, and then become clogged. This clogging will cause the vein to abnormally enlarge. These enlarged veins can be either varicose veins or spider veins.
Varicose veins are very swollen and raised above the surface of the skin. They are dark purple or blue in color, and can look like cords or very twisted and bulging. They are usually found on the backs of the calves or on the inside of the leg.
Spider veins are similar to varicose veins, but smaller and closer to the surface of the skin. They are often red or blue in color. They often resemble a tree branch or spider web. Spider veins can be found on both the legs and the face.
How common are abnormal leg veins?
About 60% of all American women and men suffer from some form of vein disorder, but women are more affected. It also is estimated that almost 40% of women will suffer from abnormal leg veins upon reaching their 50s.
What causes varicose and spider veins?
Although the precise cause of spider and varicose veins is unknown, there are several factors that contribute to their development. Heredity, or being born with weak vein valves, is the most common factor. Hormones also play a role. The hormonal changes that occur during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, as well as taking estrogen, progesterone, and birth control pills can cause a woman to develop varicose veins or spider veins. During pregnancy, besides the increases in hormone levels, there also is a great increase in the volume of blood in the body that can cause veins to enlarge. The enlarged uterus puts more pressure on the veins. 3 months after delivery varicose veins usually improve. After additional pregnancies more abnormal veins are likely to remain. Other factors that may cause varicose or spider veins include aging, obesity, leg injury, and prolonged standing, such as for long hours on the job. Spider veins on the face of a fair-skinned person may occur from sun exposure.
What complications can occur if varicose veins are not treated?
Reflux can lead to edema, phlebitis or clots, and bleeding episodes. Progressive skin damage with red to brown discoloration at the inner ankles can result in painful non-healing ulcers or open sores.
What is a duplex ultrasound examination?
The venous duplex examination permits your phlebologist to see the anatomy and check the flow characteristics of the veins beneath your skin. Useful information is gathered that your physician can use to adequately diagnose your specific vein problem and to plan and guide treatment.
What is sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is the treatment of varicose veins by injection of the veins with chemicals that cause destruction of the veins. Many patients who select this treatment option for cosmetic reasons notice improvement in the way that their legs feel after treatment.