Varicose veins are stretched, swollen veins that become that way because the valves do not close completely, and a significant amount of blood pools behind the valves. As the amount of pooled blood increases, the walls of the veins weaken. The dilation or ballooning of the veins can occur anywhere from the ankle to the groin. In addition to being unattractive, the condition that results from the valves functioning improperly and the weakened vein walls can be uncomfortable and even painful.
Varicose veins often cause discomfort and look unattractive. Left untreated, varicose veins usually enlarge and worsen over time. They can cause the legs and feet to swell. Leg muscles may feel fatigued or throb and cramp at night. The skin at or around the spider veins or varicose veins can itch or burn, and can occasionally lead to more serious problems.
Nearly 40 percent of women and 25 percent of men suffer from lower extremity venous insufficiency and associated visible varicose veins. Primary risk factors include heredity, gender, pregnancy, and age. Most of these patients have long-standing leg symptoms which compromise their daily routines, with symptoms worsening during the day while they are on the job or simply living their lives. Without varicose vein treatment, these symptoms can progress to a lifestyle limiting condition.
Spider veins are small, red or blue veins that are close to the surface of the skin and often resemble a “spider web” with short, jagged lines. Spider veins can be treated with saline or foam injections, called sclerotherapy, or by a cosmetic laser.
Spider veins are the least serious of the most common vein disorders. Spider veins are essentially smaller versions of varicose veins and are caused by blood pooling in the veins because the valves are not closing completely. Spider veins commonly appear as as small red or purple cluster of veins that are near the skin’s surface. Depending on how large or dark they are, they may appear unattractive but generally do not cause much discomfort.The cause of spider veins is uncertain, but include factors that weaken vein valves include aging, obesity, leg injury, and prolonged standing.