Varicose Veins Fort Worth, TX
What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are enlarged veins near the surface of the skin which may be troubling both cosmetically and medically. They occur most often in the legs, but may exist elsewhere in the body. They are one of the main reasons that people come to see us at Reeder Vein in Dallas, TX
Varicose veins are the visible signs of a condition known as chronic venous insufficiency. In general, this means that the veins have lost the ability to efficiently return blood to the heart, causing the blood to pool in the abnormal veins. In the legs the mechanism of chronic venous insufficiency is most often due to a condition call venous reflux, or backward flow of the blood in the veins. Venous reflux happens because the tiny one way valves in the veins, which keep the blood flowing toward the heart, become damaged. The damaged valves become incompetent, allowing blood in the veins to flow away from the heart (toward the feet), especially when we are standing. The consequence of this backward flow is increased pressure in the veins which over time leads to enlargement of the veins, producing varicose veins. If this venous hypertension continues for many years, other problems begin to develop such as swelling, inflammation, skin changes, and even skin ulcers.
How do Varicose Veins Develop?
Your veins carry blood from the tissues where it supplies oxygen and nutrients, back to the heart so it can be replenished and recirculated. In the lower limbs, leg muscles contract to help 'pump' blood upward and toward the heart. All veins except the vena cava near the heart have tiny "one-way" valves inside to keep blood flowing toward the heart. A malfunction in one or more of these valves leads to backward flow, especially when we are standing. This backward flow creates pressure causing the dilated ropy visible veins we call varicose veins. Many circumstances related to your health and lifestyle can lead to your veins becoming enlarged. These include pregnancy, obesity, injury, genetics, and occupation.
Click to view brief video of how varicose veins form
What Are the Symptoms of Varicose Veins?
The diagnosis of varicose veins is often made by examination as the dilated veins are usually visible. Occasionally, there may be enough swelling to obscure the varicose veins. The source and cause of the pressure in the veins can easily be determined by a non-invasive ultrasound examination. The pattern of varicose veins on the leg will often indicate what part of the trunk vein anatomy is abnormal. These items are determined during your initial consultation visit with our medical team.
Are Varicose Veins Painful?
Varicose veins are often painful due to the high pressure inside the vessel, especially when standing or sitting for prolonged periods. Blood flow is often sluggish or stagnant in these veins, and sometimes leads to blood clots in these superficial veins which causes inflammation known as phlebitis, with symptoms of redness and painful swelling. Varicose veins are also usually visible as swollen or bulging vein in the legs, feet or ankles. Varicose veins may be accompanied by swelling, or edema, usually below the knee. Patients may experience itching and aching over the affected veins, especially when they have been standing or sitting for a prolonged period. Heaviness, fatigue, and restlessness are also common. Varicose veins are part of the larger spectrum of chronic venous insufficiency, or CVI. In the later stages of CVI, skin discoloration and inflammation in the lower legs, usually around the ankles, is common. This may ultimately result in breakdown of the skin, known as venous ulceration.
How Are Varicose Veins Treated?
There are several options available, depending on the severity of the condition. The treatments to eliminate varicose veins and all vein abnormalities have improved dramatically in the last decade. The abnormal diseased veins are now eliminated by modern endovenous laser ablation or endovenous radio-frequency ablation (using the VNUS ClosureFast method). Both radio-frequency and laser ablation methods are excellent for treating vein disease, although sometimes one is preferred over the other. Both have greatly improved the outcome and recovery from vein surgery, especially compared to the old "vein stripping" operations. At Reeder Vein Institute our surgeons have extensive experience with these minimally invasive methods and can recommend the best treatment options for your specific problem once a through evaluation of your veins has been completed.
Risk Factors with Varicose Veins
Pregnancy, age, obesity, genetics, injury, and occupation all contribute to the development of chronic venous insufficiency and varicose veins. Apart from other risk factors, females are twice as likely as males to develop varicose veins.
Many of the choices we make in life can lead to varicose veins or aggravate them. However, it's not necessarily your choice or your fault – family history is often a factor. Family history of a significant vein disease significantly increases the risk that the children of this parent will also develop vein disease. In fact, in eighty percent of patients who have varicose veins there is a family history of vein disease in one or both parents.
During pregnancy, your body goes through monumental physical and hormonal changes. Most of them are temporary, but your new varicose veins may not be, often persisting after pregnancy, especially the second pregnancy. Your doctor can recommend many ways to keep your legs more comfortable during pregnancy, including regular moderate exercise, plenty of rest, support stockings and elevating your legs, especially during the evening.
If you stand on your feet all day, you may be paying a price – achy, tired, heavy legs caused by varicose veins. Blood in your veins has to fight gravity to return to your heart. So, when you're on your feet for hours at a time, especially standing in one place, that blood has an even harder time making its way back up through the body. It can actually flow backward toward your feet, pooling in the lower legs and stagnating. Individuals who are frequently bothered by varicose veins include hairdressers, waiters, drivers, teachers, nurses, and flight attendants.
If you carry extra weight in your abdomen, the weight frequently puts pressure on the large pelvic and abdominal veins carrying blood back to the heart. This pressure in the abdomen is transmitted to the veins in the legs, causing them to dilate which can lead to varicose veins and often more advanced venous disease such as chronic inflammation and skin ulceration. In addition, people with excess weight may not be getting regular exercise, which can lead to circulation problems and make varicose veins worse. In overweight patients the varicose veins may not be visible, but they can still ache and produce swelling.
Are varicose veins dangerous?
In and of themselves varicose veins are not dangerous, just unsightly and often uncomfortable. The abnormal veins may occasionally be the source of superficial blood clots leading to inflammation and acute pain in the veins, a condition called phlebitis. Varicose veins may also be an indicator of significant underlying vein disease, which is best evaluated by ultrasound examination.
Is Varicose vein treatment covered by insurance?
If a patient has symptoms associated with varicose vein disease, most health insurance plans including Medicare will cover the evaluation and treatment of the varicose vein disease. The exact coverage varies by the plan, but most insurers wish to have the disease treated if symptoms are present.
*The information about Varicose Veins was reviewed by Board Certified Surgeon Dr. Michael Darnell. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us using our contact form.