Our body has a vast network of veins that help carry blood from all organs to the heart. The veins furthest away from the heart have to do the most work: such as the veins in our legs and face. Veins on the legs have an even tougher job to do as they have to pump blood against gravity.
To prevent blood from flowing back into the legs, veins have valves that close if blood tries to flow backward. But over time, some valves may weaken. When this happens, blood may get collected in the veins, then branch out to look like thin spider webs. This is what causes spider veins.
Varicose veins are caused in the same way, except they are more serious than spider veins. They are blue or purple in color and appear swollen and enlarged. Frequently, they can have a lumpy, bulging, or twisty appearance.
Women are more likely to develop spider and varicose veins than men; similarly, they are more likely to appear if it runs in the family. While these factors cannot be controlled, other risk factors such as lifestyle and diet can be controlled. Obesity can also be a factor. If your work or lifestyle involves long hours or sitting or standing and if you don’t have sufficient exercise in your daily routine, you can fall at the risk of developing spider and varicose veins.
If spider veins cover more than 20% of your body, it could be a sign of an underlying issue and you must consult a doctor immediately. If spider veins appear alongside other symptoms such as heaviness or aching in the legs, cramping, worsening leg fatigue, swelling in the feet or ankles, and irritation, itching, or burning over areas of the veins, it could be because of Chronic Venous Insufficiency.
Chronic Venous Insufficiency is a serious condition where valves in the vein have been damaged or become dysfunctional and blood cannot flow back to the heart sufficiently. If left untreated, Chronic Venous Insufficiency can lead to serious complications such as blood clots and ulcers. Therefore, it is extremely important to screen for possible Chronic Venous Insufficiency if the symptoms mentioned above arise.
Who is a vein specialist?
The human body consists of complex systems that work together to keep you running day-to-day. Some doctors specialize in each of these various systems in order to provide comprehensive care for diseases and problems relating to their field of expertise. Similar to the way cardiologists specialize in the heart, gynecologists specialize in the female reproductive system, a specialist, also known as a phlebologist, is a doctor who specializes in treating vein-related conditions. The conditions that a phlebologist treats include spider and vascular veins, chronic vascular insufficiency, vein-related ulcers, vascular thrombosis, and other vein diseases. This means that apart from completing a medical degree, they have undergone further training and specialization in the human vascular system. Some vein specialists may also have further training in related medical fields such as dermatology, hematology, vascular surgery, or general medicine.
Diagnosis and treatment: How are spider and varicose veins treated?
To diagnose your condition, vein doctors will first perform a physical exam. This often involves observing the affected veins while you are standing. Doctors may also perform duplex ultrasound to help with the diagnosis and to examine how far your condition has progressed.
Depending on the diagnosis and your specific needs, our doctors will use state-of-the-art technology for your vein treatment. Innovation and massive advances in medical technology have meant that vein treatment procedures have become progressively less invasive over the last decade. Most procedures used today only need a local anesthetic, and some don’t require an anesthetic at all. For many of the procedures, you will be able to walk out of the hospital within an hour.
Our Vein Clinic offers a number of spider and varicose vein treatment methods using state of the art technology:
- Sclerotherapy: Sclerotherapy is the most frequently used method of treatment of spider veins. An agent called a sclerosant is injected into the diseased veins that cause the veins to stick to one another and close up. Your body can then absorb the veins, clearing the skin.
- Varithena: Varithena is a microfoam sclerosant that is injected into the diseased veins. This is a non-surgical procedure that takes less than 60 minutes in which the diseased veins are closed down and eventually disappear. The recovery period for this procedure is also very short; the patient will be able to move about freely within an hour of the vein procedure.
- VenaSeal: VenaSeal is another minimally invasive medical procedure in which a bio-adhesive is applied to the diseased veins using a catheter, sealing off the veins. This vein procedure takes anywhere between 30 minutes to 60 minutes. Over time, the veins are reabsorbed by the body.
Endovenous laser varicose surgery: In this vein procedure, heat from a laser is applied to close or shrink the varicose veins. Endovenous laser surgery is a minimally invasive procedure that takes less than an hour and does not require a hospital stay. You will be able to walk out of the hospital within an hour after the procedure is done.
Radiofrequency Ablation: Similar to endovenous laser varicose surgery, this procedure applies heat to the diseased veins. Heat is produced using radiofrequency. The heat then stops blood flow in the diseased veins, and over time the veins disappear.
All the mentioned treatments are used when surface veins are affected. But if during diagnosis the vein doctors find that deeper veins are also affected, you may need to undergo vascular surgery.
To know more about the best vein treatment options for you, book an appointment with the best vein doctors and vascular surgeons in California.
Our vein clinic in San Diego is currently located near the Torrey Pine beach state park, close to the Westfield UTC Shopping Center. In San Jose, our vein clinic is located in a beautiful neighborhood near Palo Alto, Sunnydale, and Santa Clara. It is down the block from the Santa Clara Medical Center and the Santana Row Shopping Mall. Our vein doctors can offer the best care possible to help you.