WHAT IS The difference between VARICOSE VEINS and spider veins?

Both veins appear visible on the leg with a blue, red or purple color. Varicose veins are enlarged veins that are often raised above the skin on legs and look like twisted bulging cords. They can even be flesh colored and raised above the skin. Spider veins appear like very thin spider webs or branches from a tree. They are closer to the surface of the skin yet are not raised above it and can appear in bursts over several spots on the leg. Varicose veins are often misunderstood as a cosmetic issue, varicose veins can be a symptom of a Venous Disease called Venous Insufficiency which is covered by insurance 95% of the time with proper diagnosis of the underlying valve issue which causes it. Whereas, spider veins are most often cosmetic in nature and are associated more with mild leg trauma or age.

WHAT IS Venous Disease/Venous insufficiency?

Venous Disease, specifically Venous Insufficiency, is a chronic medical condition which occurs when the valves that regulate blood flow from the legs to the heart no longer open and close properly while regulating blood flow. This causes blood to pool in the legs creating pressure which results in the veins swelling and popping above the surface. Venous Insufficiency can affect both men and women and often life changes like pregnancy, age or standing for long periods of time at a job can cause vein walls to weaken and stretch under the pressure. Heredity is also a chief contributing factor in venous disease.

can I do anything to prevent venous disease or varicose veins from occuring?

Venous disease is a chronic medical condition affecting the valves in your legs. Mild cases may not need surgical treatment however, it will potentially worsen over time and it will never get better. Symptoms associated with venous disease including the bothersome varicose veins, may be temporarily relieved with lifestyle changes and preventative use of NSAIDS (Ibuprofen) and a compression stocking.

  • Watch your blood pressure and body weight
  • Walk, run or exercise your legs regularly
  • Elevate your legs whenever possible
  • Avoid prolonged periods of standing or sitting
  • Regular use of a compression stocking
  • Take nonprescription NSAIDs (Ibuprofen) for temporary relief of symptoms such as aching, heaviness, burning, restless leg, cramping and itching.

None of these preventative measures will resolve or cure your venous disease but rather only help with the symptoms associated with it. Venous Disease is progressive and if left untreated can worsen over time.

WHAT if I don’t get my veins treated?

Untreated varicose veins can and most often WILL progress into a worsened state. Untreated correction of the underlying valve problem can negatively affect your vein condition even more! Symptoms like ankle swelling, an extreme heaviness and fatigue and pain in your legs can affect your daily activity including the ability to stand for long periods of time. The pressure building up in the veins can also lead to ruptured veins and even ulcers if left untreated.

HOW do you treat venous disease and Venous Insufficiency?

Once properly diagnosed with Venous Disease with an accredited venous ultrasound, we perform a minimally-invasive treatment called Endo Venous Laser Ablation (EVLA). EVLA uses an internal laser to ablate (heat) the vein from the inside sealing it off so blood can re-routed to other, healthier veins. The procedure is done in the office with no anesthesia in about an hour. Patient walk out and resume most normal activity with no down time.

is there a screening or a checklist to tell me if I have spider veins, varicose veins or venous disease?

Our offices will ask a serious of specific, vein related questions about your condition, history and effects on your daily life. That in conjunction with a brief exam will determine the difference between a varicose and spider vein and whether you should be further evaluated for venous disease. Detection of the valve malfunction in venous insufficiency can only be done by ultrasound. We are an ICAVL accredited laboratory with state of the art diagnostic equipment. Patients who pass through the initial screening, or consultation, with an indication of a further problem will only be treated after receiving this detailed ultrasound scan to determine the extent of the problem and map the proper anatomy of your veins and blood flow. Results of the diagnostic ultrasound are combined with the comprehensive history and exam to create a specialized treatment plan just for you and your condition.

My family doctor said my veins are a cosmetic issue and/or not to worry about them. is this accurate?

Many physicians did not endorse vein treatment when the old fashioned vein stripping was the only option. However, now with in office procedures like EVLA, they are beginning to understand how easy and non-invasive treatment can be. It is also somewhat of an obscure specialty and not widely known about in most medical circles. Most physicians aren’t even aware that it is a medical condition caused by a valve problem and that it is covered by insurance. Our staff works daily to educate local physicians on the importance of screening patients for venous disease. Always seek an accredited professional in the field of Phlebology (the medicine of vein care).