If you have vein disease, you are not alone – one in three people in the United States over the age of 45 has some type of vein disease, according to the American Venous Forum. Fortunately, many safe and effective vein treatment options are available.
There are several types of vein disease, including:
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot in the lower leg
- Pulmonary embolism (PE), a blood clot that breaks off and travels to the lung
- Chronic venous disease (CVD), such as varicose veins, spider veins and chronic venous insufficiency (CVI)
- Lymphedema, an obstruction of the lymph vessels that drain fluids from various body tissues
Arteries transport oxygen-rich blood from the heart to tissues all over the body, including those in your lower legs and feet, and veins carry blood back to your heart. Veins that carry blood from your feet to your heart must fight gravity to prevent blood from flowing backwards, or refluxing, down into your feet. One-way valves inside veins trap blood inside small segments of the vein in between heartbeats to prevent this reflux.
In vein disease, the interior surface of the leg veins deteriorate and the valves do a poor job of opening and closing, or quit working altogether. Deteriorated veins and incompetent valves allow blood to flow backwards towards the foot. Your body responds to the pressure of blood pooling in your lower legs by expanding the veins to help them carry more blood towards the heart. Expanding these veins, however, can prevent functioning valves from closing properly, causing varicose veins and other incompetent veins deeper in the venous system.
Severe varicose veins and incompetent veins in the deep vein system prevent the body from pumping blood efficiently from the feet to the heart, which means the veins in the lower legs remain filled with blood. This condition, known as chronic venous insufficiency, can cause edema and swelling, skin changes and, in some cases, painful ulcerations and sores.
Signs and Symptoms of Vein Disease
Depending on the type of vein disease and its severity, signs and symptoms of chronic venous disorders include:
- Feeling like your legs are swollen
- Feeling heaviness in your legs
- Pain or cramps in your calves
- Skin discolorations
- White atrophy, also known as atrophie blanche, which is a particular type of scarring that occurs after a skin injury when blood supply is poor
- Dermatitis and other skin problems
- Dry or weeping eczema
- Venous leg ulcer, which appears as an open wound on the lower leg, usually near the ankle
Unlike chronic venous insufficiency and other long-lasting vein diseases, DVT and other acute disorders usually occur suddenly without pre-existing diseases. Chronic vein disease can sometimes trigger acute events.
Certain factors increase the risk for vein diseases, such as a history of vein disease in the family, being female, pregnancy, professions that require prolonged sitting or standing, age, and obesity.
Houston vein doctors provide varicose vein treatment and treatment for other types of vein disease. Houston vein treatment may include endovenous laser treatment (EVLT), ambulatory phlebectomy, and vein surgery. Many of these treatments may be performed at an outpatient Houston vein treatment center.
If you are worried about vein disease, make an appointment with your local Houston vein clinic for an evaluation and an opportunity to discuss your treatment options.