Weak or damaged vein valves cause varicose veins, which impedes blood flow, negatively impacting their function. If these branches bulge through the skin in a bumpy or rope-like fashion, they are known as varicose veins.
When the valve in your vein stops functioning, blood will start to pool in the leg, causing insufficient circulation and chronic venous hypertension and, eventually the formation of varicose veins on the surface of the skin.
While these veins can appear on any part of the body, they are most common on the legs. Varicose veins appear swollen, twisted, and bulge from the skin with a dark purple or blue color.
Varicose veins are often believed to be nothing more than a cosmetic concern and will not require medical attention. Unfortunately, this misinformation can lead to serious side effects such as Venous Ulcers, blood clots or Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), and Edema in addition to more common symptoms like pain and swelling or tired and achy legs, which will worsen if left untreated.
Varicose veins appear in roughly 25% of the entire population! That’s 1 out of every 4 people!
Signs & Symptoms
- The appearance of Varicose Veins
- Spider Veins in the ankle areas
- Restless leg syndrome (RLS)
- Heaviness in the legs
- Swelling in the legs and ankles
- Skin changes (e.g. Skin discoloration)
- Leg Ulcers
Causes & Risk Factors
- Heredity: This is the number one cause of Varicose Veins. In fact, if one parent has varicose veins there is a 40 % chance you will. If both parents have them that number rises to 60%.
- Age: As you age, your veins become weaker and are more susceptible to the general wear and tear that leads to varicose veins. The older you get, the weaker your veins become. General wear and tear can gradually lead to varicose veins.
- Pregnancy: Women are at an increased risk for varicose veins, but men aren’t immune to developing them. During pregnancy, women experience increased volumes of blood and more strain on the circulatory system. This added pressure can damage vein valves and create the appearance of varicose veins.
- Genetics, or a family history of varicose veins or vein disease: If you have family members who suffer from varicose veins, you’re more likely to experience them yourself. If one of your parents had varicose veins, you have a 40% risk of developing them as well. If both biological parents had them, you have a 90% risk of developing them.
- Obesity: Being overweight, particularly morbidly obese also puts a great deal of pressure on your heart which slows down blood flow.
- Sedentary lifestyle: Many jobs in our “service-based economy” are often sitting at a desk for 8-12 hours a day. Additionally, we spend too many hours watching television. This forms poor habits that can contribute to and/or exacerbate chronic disease and slow down blood flow.
We encourage you to talk with your primary care doctor and contact us for a second opinion to learn more about your specific risk factors. It’s important to understand how to mitigate these habits and risk factors. In fact, it’s precisely why our only focus is veins – we will not only effectively treat your venous and lymphatic disease, but teach you how to prevent it from worsening.
Complications of Untreated Varicose Veins:
- Continuing pain
- Swelling in the legs and ankles
- Skin discoloration
- Skin changes
- Leg Ulcers
The Importance of a Proper Diagnosis
It’s easy to notice the aforementioned signs and symptoms as a visual cue to seek medical assistance, but many of us are too busy or think it will go away on our own. Unfortunately, varicose veins do not get better on their own without medical intervention – sometimes even in spite of making lifestyle changes, adding a massage, or wearing compression stockings
If you feel severe leg pain and do not see any signs of varicose veins, you should still call us. Dr. Perlmutter will see you promptly and perform a Venous Ultrasound as this pain may indicate a larger issue (e.g. Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)), which when left untreated can turn into a pulmonary embolism ultimately lead to death.
Seeing an IVS vein specialist is the easiest step to take to get a proper and professional diagnosis.
Dr. Perlutter is the Midwest’s leading medical physician in the diagnosis and treatment of varicose veins. He and the entire IVS medical team train ceaselessly to provide patients with the most effective and minimally invasive treatment options.
Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT) is a procedure for indwelling varicose veins to relieve the high pressure by using heat to force the vein to close down instantly. There are hundreds of veins in the legs and, upon completion of the EVLT, the blood flow is directed through another vein, significantly reducing the high pressure and, as a bonus, some patients feel better the second they stand up after the procedure! EVLT procedures only take an hour to conduct, are performed right in the office, and there is no downtime post-procedure!
VenaSeal™ is an outpatient procedure that involves using cyanoacrylate adhesives to stop the flow of blood at the site of the vein that has failed. As a result of this procedure, the vein will close, allowing blood to divert to healthy veins in the leg. VenaSeal has been proven to be a more effective, less invasive procedure for the treatment of Varicose Veins, the main cause of most varicose veins. It is done right in the office, takes about an hour, and you are able to carry on most normal activities the very same day.
Sclerotherapy is another effective treatment for Varicose Veins. Sclerotherapy is a method of eliminating indwelling and surface varicose veins. A solution, called a sclerosing agent, is injected into the veins. Its job is to attach itself to the inner walls of the vein causing irritation and inflammation within the treated vein and, over time, the vein is reabsorbed by the body and disappears. It is done in the office and takes about 45 minutes.
Hear what our patients have to say!
I had my first appointment at IVS today. The staff was very friendly and helpful. Dr Perlmutter was extremely thorough, answered all of my questions (and I had a long list) and he was very personable. Excellent experience overall – I highly recommend this practice!