Varicose Veins | The Woodlands | Springs | Katy
Your Veins: Normal Anatomy & Function
Varicose veins and spider veins affect millions of Americans and become more common with age. These veins may be cosmetic or medical, causing health issues that may affect your quality of life.
With the help of your leg muscles, normal leg veins have valves that allow blood to flow only one-way: back up to the heart. There are three main leg vein systems:
- Superficial veins. These lie just below the skin and above the muscle fascia (envelope).
- Deep veins. These drain most of your venous blood and lie deeper within the muscle compartment.
- Perforator veins. These drain blood from the superficial system into the deep system.
Our highways are like veins. Main highways are the deep veins, feeder roads are the superficial veins, and on-ramps are perforators that connect the two systems.
Venous disease: Cosmetic or Medical?
Not all visible veins are abnormal. Common spider veins are usually cosmetic. Venous disease occurs when valves become leaky (reflux) and allow blood to pool in your legs. Over time, this high vein pressure causes other veins to dilate, bulge, and leak fluid into the skin. Venous reflux symptoms include: burning, itching, aching, throbbing, fatigue, & cramps at night. Chronic reflux may lead to swelling, discoloration, rashes, blood clots, and even ulcers. Venous reflux most commonly involves superficial veins, especially the great saphenous vein (GSV), the small saphenous vein (SSV) and connecting perforator veins.
What are the Causes of Venous Reflux?
Genetics (family history) play the biggest role in venous disease. Other factors include: Gender & pregnancy- women have more vein problems, partly due to their higher levels of progesterone, a hormone that dilates blood vessels. During pregnancy, higher levels of progesterone, weight gain and fluid retention all worsen veins, especially with the right genes. Age- venous disease increases with each decade after age 40, especially after 60. Clots & trauma- clots in the superficial or deep venous systems (deep venous thrombosis (DVT)) and severe leg injury all damage vein walls and valves. Leg muscle weakness- leg muscles help pump blood up and out of your legs. If these muscles are weak, veins lose their support and function poorly.
What are my treatment options?
You can’t change your genetics but you can help yourself. Exercise, reduce weight, strengthen your leg muscles, and wear compression stockings preventively.
There are many treatment options for leg veins. Generally, big veins are treated before smaller ones. Think of a broken dam; if the dam is not fixed first, then the connecting streams below will continue to flood. Common to all modern therapies are; outpatient (local anesthetic, no hospital stay, quick recovery), multiple sessions and compression stockings. Your veins did not appear overnight and will not disappear quickly. For your safety, vein treatments are spaced out over time. Options may include sclerotherapy, foam sclerotherapy,