Spider veins are small, dilated blood vessels near the surface of the skin. They are thin and winding and usually look like little red, blue or purple threads running just beneath the skin. Healthy veins that swell can become spider veins. Spider veins are caused by heredity, pregnancy, and prolonged sitting or standing. Generally speaking, spider veins do not create the health problems or leg discomfort that may be observed with varicose veins. However, there can be an underlying cause that should be addressed before treatment occurs if your spider veins are accompanied by symptoms such as pain, swelling, heaviness, itching, or aching. Spider veins can be treated with visual cosmetic sclerotherapy, topical skin laser, or a combination of both.
Spider veins are small, dilated blood vessels near the surface of the skin. They are usually red, blue or purple, and look like colored threads running just beneath your skin. Spider veins are caused by heredity, pregnancy, and prolonged sitting or standing. Generally speaking, spider veins do not create the health problems or symptoms that varicose veins do. However, there can be an underlying cause that should be addressed before treatment occurs if your spider veins are accompanied by symptoms such as pain, swelling, heaviness, itching, or aching. Spider veins can be treated with visual cosmetic sclerotherapy, topical skin laser, or a combination of both.
Vein disease is chronic and progressive, and if left untreated can lead to pain, swelling, itching, skin changes, and even non-healing sores.
A healthy venous system lets blood flow efficiently from your leg veins back to your heart. The superficial veins that return the blood to the heart are known as the Great and Small Saphenous veins. As the valves in these veins become dysfunctional, the blood doesn’t move up, but flows back down toward your feet. This reverse flow is known as reflux. The increase in the pressure from the reverse flow in the saphenous veins leads to increased pressure in the skin veins.
This increased pressure then causes the walls of the skin veins to become weak and thin, causing the veins to bulge. The reflux in the saphenous vein(s) causes Varicose veins which are dark purple and blue in color and may appear twisted and bulging- like cords. They are most often found on the backs of the calves or on the inside of the leg, anywhere from your groin to your feet. There are three main causes to venous disease: heredity, pregnancy, and prolonged sitting or standing.
Varicose veins develop slowly and often take years to become a problem. People develop varicose veins due to:
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
A deep venous thrombosis or DVT is a vascular disorder resulting from the formation of a blood clot (thrombus) inside a deep vein of the upper or lower extremities. Most frequently, a DVT will occur in the leg or thigh when a blood clot either partially or completely blocks the flow of blood in the vein. Patient symptoms can include pain, swelling, and discoloration. Left untreated, a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) can break off and travel in the circulation, getting trapped in the lung, where it blocks the oxygen supply, causing heart failure. This is known as a pulmonary embolism or PE, which can be fatal. When a DVT is suspected an immediate evaluation and diagnosis (typically with and ultrasound) needs to be established in order to initiate appropriate treatment.
Post-Thrombotic Syndrome (PTS)
PTS is an under-recognized, but relatively common sequela, or aftereffect, of having DVT if treated with blood thinners (anticoagulation) alone, because the clot remains in the leg. Contrary to popular belief, anticoagulants do not actively dissolve the clot, they just prevent new clots from forming. The body will eventually dissolve a clot, but often the vein becomes damaged in the meantime. A significant proportion of these patients develop permanent irreversible damage in the affected leg veins and their valves, resulting in abnormal pooling of blood in the leg, chronic leg pain, fatigue, swelling, and, in extreme cases, severe skin ulcers. While this use to be considered an unusual, long-term sequela, it actually occurs frequently, in as many as 60-70 percent of people, and can develop within two months of developing DVT. There is increasing evidence that clot removal via interventional mechanical and catheter-directed thrombolysis in selected cases of DVT can improve quality of life and prevent the debilitating sequela of post-thrombotic syndrome.
Most people have had a wound at some time such as a cut, a graze, a surgical incision, burn or scald, and these usually heal in a few days by keeping them clean and wearing a simple bandage. Not all wounds, however, heal easily; some take months to heal particularly on the legs. A common cause of chronic leg wounds is associated with chronic vein conditions and varicose veins.
The staff at the Charlottesville Vein Center are experts in wound care and treating and managing wounds associated with chronic venous disease.
We also work in tandem with Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital’s Wound Care Center to provide advanced treatments that maximize the body’s capacity to heal chronic and complex wounds.