Vein Treatment FAQs
Answered by Dr. Craig Schwartz
What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are surface-level veins that have become dilated, bulging or twisted. Varicose veins develop when there is increased pressure in or stretching of the veins, which keeps the valves in the veins from functioning well. While they certainly look unattractive, they are much more than just a cosmetic concern. They are often symptomatic, causing heaviness, fatigue, aching, burning, throbbing, itching, cramping and swelling. Vein disorders are not always visible from the surface, so a careful evaluation by a skilled vein specialist is needed to determine the extent of the problem.
What are the symptoms of varicose veins?
Symptoms of varicose veins include ankle or leg swelling, pain, aching, fatigue, heaviness, burning, throbbing, itching, cramping, restlessness, or even ulcerations. Causes include heredity factors or family history, pregnancy, trauma, prolonged standing or sitting, age and obesity. Varicose veins are usually progressive, meaning that in most cases, they get worse over time. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please call our office immediately to schedule a complimentary vein consult with Dr. Schwartz.
Will Insurance Pay for My Varicose Vein Treatments?
Because varicose veins are caused by a more significant underlying venous problem, which can lead to long-term complications, treatment is considered medically necessary, and most insurance plans will cover treatment for varicose veins – our staff will work with your insurance company to maximize your coverage and help get you the treatment you need.
When Should I See a Vein Specialist?
You should see a vein specialist if:
- Your leg symptoms are interfering with your daily activities.
- Any of your veins become red, hard, warm or painful.
- You have a sudden increase in swelling in your leg.
- The skin on your leg or ankle becomes dark or thickened.
- You develop a sore or rash near your ankle.
- You are unhappy with the appearance of your veins and would like to have them removed.
- You had significant vein problems during pregnancy and plan to get pregnant again. Treating the underlying problem before the next pregnancy can help prevent a lot of pain.
Can I Prevent Varicose Veins and Spider Veins?
Not all varicose veins and spider veins can be prevented, but there are some steps you can take to decrease your risk.
- Exercise regularly to improve your circulation and your overall health. Walking and running are some of the best exercises you can do to help your leg circulation.
- Elevate your legs while you’re resting to let gravity help relieve the pressure in your leg veins.
- Avoid putting too much pressure on your legs. Control your weight, avoid repetitive strenuous activities, and don’t keep your legs crossed for prolonged periods of time.
- Avoid standing still or sitting for prolonged periods of time. Your calf muscles are the pump for your leg veins. Use them! When you are standing, shift your weight from one foot to another. When you are sitting, flex your feet up and down. Get up and take a walk periodically.
- Wear compression stockings for support if you will be standing or sitting for a prolonged period of time. Particularly, people who work in jobs that require these activities will benefit from getting in the habit of wearing compression stockings at work.
- Eat a healthy diet low in salt and high in fiber. Fiber helps decrease the risk of constipation which increases pressure on leg veins. Salt contributes to water retention which can cause swelling in the legs.
What’s the Difference between Spider Veins and Varicose Veins?
Spider veins and varicose veins are similar in that they’re both annoying, unsightly blemishes that prevent your legs from looking their best. However, spider veins are generally just a cosmetic vein problem, even though they may be symptomatic, whereas varicose veins, one of the most common vein problems, usually signify a more significant underlying medical issue known as venous reflux disease or venous insufficiency. Varicose veins should always be evaluated by a vein doctor, especially if they are tender to the touch, swollen, or if you have heavy, tired, achy legs at the end of the day.
Spider veins look like fine red, blue or purplish lines on the skin surface, often times resembling a bruise when they occur in clusters. Varicose veins are bluer in color, and tend to appear larger, protruding or dilated above the level of the skin, often looking like bluish rope underneath the skin. They are usually soft and spongy unless they have clotted off, at which point they may become hard, ropy and tender to the touch.
Dr. Schwartz can treat both spider veins and varicose veins easily in our beautiful Leawood office using a variety of techniques. The options include superficial or topical laser, injection sclerotherapy, laser ablation/closure, or microphlebectomy, depending on the type of vein and where the source of the problem lies. After an initial consultation with Dr. Schwartz to obtain the correct diagnosis, treatment can be performed as an outpatient at our state-of-the art vein treatment center in Leawood. Most treatments can be conducted in less than an hour and involve little to no downtime from moderate activities. Depending on your condition, Dr. Schwartz may prescribe multiple treatments to ensure that your underlying vein condition is treated properly and your unsightly veins are improved. Patients often wonder why they waited so long to treat their veins, when the process is so easy and the results are so good!
WHAT ARE SPIDER VEINS?
Spider veins appear as red, blue or purple sunbursts on the skin surface, but most typically occur on the face, legs, ankles or feet.
Are Spider Veins A Health Risk?
Generally just a cosmetic concern, they are not a health risk alone, because they won’t lead to long-term problems.
However, they can be symptomatic and commonly cause itching, burning, throbbing or aching, and can be found alone or in combination with varicose veins.
In fact it’s estimated that more than half of the adult female population suffers from this common problem.
Causes of Spider Veins
Spider veins are most often caused by hereditary factors, pregnancy, prolonged periods of standing on your feet, prior trauma and hormonal changes.
Spider veins form from high pressure in the venous system. This in turn forces the thin-walled veins to expand. These engorged capillaries then expand to several times their normal size, causing spider veins.