What is a varicose vein?
Varicose veins are a common ailment of athletes, the elderly, and persons with vascular issues.
are the result of a weakness in the veins to properly pump and direct blood in a single direction from the heart. As the veins weaken, the one-way valves that push oxygen-rich blood away from the heart to the rest of the body start to fail, allowing old nutrient-depleted blood to seep backwards into the veins, causing pooling and further stretching the vein wall.
When the vein wall becomes so stretched that its valves permanently fail, a vein becomes varicose. Because the blood is being dragged downward by forces of gravity, varicose veins will often appear in the legs, particularly the thighs and the back of calves.
Varicose veins vs. spider veins: which is which?
Because both are often, but not necessarily, symptoms of venous insufficiency, varicose veins and spider veins are commonly confused with one another. Spider veins are caused by venous insufficiency. But they are also caused by hormonal factors, hereditary factors, and in some cases exposure to sunlight.
What to look for?
Varicose veins are thick, bulging, rope-like veins just beneath the surface of the skin. They may resemble the kind of veins one might see on the back of people’s hands. However, varicose veins are often shorter, typically anywhere between 1”to 3”and appear on the thighs or calves. They range in color, from blue to purple to red. But are often blue because of the oxygen-poor blood that has collected inside of the vein.
Spider veins are, as the name suggests, web-like vein formations. They are very thin, often purple or blue, and create dense branch formations on the surface of the skin. They can occur in various places throughout the body, including the legs, stomach, and buttocks.
How does it feel?
While spider veins are typically painless, varicose veins are often itchy and uncomfortable, and may cause their sufferers numbness and fatigue in the legs.
Vein doctors in Lake Bluff
will often advise patients who suffer from severe varicosities to undergo a duplex ultrasound treatment, to assess their vein health, and may recommend outpatient varicose vein laser removal treatment.