Varicose veins plague as many as 22 million women and 11 million men between the ages of 40 and 80, according to the American Heart Association. Varicose veins typically strike the lower leg, making sufferers self-conscious about wearing shorts and bathing suits during the summer. They can also lead to painful symptoms, skin changes and even ulcerations in the skin that are difficult to treat.
Varicose veins are caused by an underlying vein disorder known as venous insufficiency, which can worsen over time if it is left untreated. Because serious complications can arise with varicose veins, it is always a good idea to have a full evaluation of the vascular system to determine if the underlying cause of the veins requires treatment. In most cases, earlier treatment means more effective elimination of varicose veins, their symptoms and a better prognosis overall.
VARICOSE VEIN SYMPTOMS
Common symptoms of varicose veins include:
- Visible veins protruding above the skin’s surface that may be blue, purple or flesh colored
- Leg fatigue and aching after long periods of sitting or standing
- Swelling of the lower leg, ankle and foot
- Leg cramping and a feeling of restlessness in the legs, especially at night
- Skin thickening, irritation or discoloration
- The formation of open sores around the ankle, known as venous ulcers
WHAT IS VENOUS INSUFFICIENCY?
The veins are responsible for carrying blood back to the heart after the blood has transported nutrients and oxygen to various areas of the body. The veins in the lower legs have a particularly difficult job since they must pump blood against the force of gravity and the weight of the body to move blood upward to the heart. Tiny valves inside of these vessels keep blood moving in a uniform direction, which keeps the pressure inside the veins consistent and healthy.
Over time, these valves can become damaged or simply wear out. Blood is allowed to pool inside the veins, leading to swelling of the vessels and varicosity. In addition to the formation of spider and varicose veins, this condition can affect pressure inside the veins and the blood’s ability to reach every area of the body that it needs to go.
COMPLICATIONS OF VENOUS INSUFFICIENCY
Because this problem is more likely to occur in the vessels of the lower leg, it can affect the legs in many negative ways. In addition to the formation of varicose veins, limited blood supply to the skin and surrounding tissue can lead to sometimes irreversible damage. You will see this damage as changes to your skin’s texture and color. Over time, the damage can result in the development of open sores that are very difficult to treat due to the limited blood supply in the area. Learn the difference of spider veins vs varicose veins, visit our cosmetic vein center today serving Portland, ME communities including Gorham, Westbrook, and South Portland.