Fact: 25 million Americans have varicose veins, 75% of that population are women.
Definition: They are veins that have faulty valves, and have lost their ability to take blood from the legs up to the heart and lungs, due to gravity the veins overfill with blood giving them the bulging appearance.
Risks: Varicose veins, if left untreated, may lead to the formation of blood clots, phlebitis or inflammation of the vein, and ulceration.
Symptoms: Achy or heavy feeling in your legs, burning, throbbing, muscle cramping and swelling in your lower legs, bulging veins, and itching, ulcers around the ankle.
Definition: Spider veins are tiny dilated blood vessels seen in the skin usually on the face and legs.
Symptoms: Occasional pain, dull throbbing to a burning sensation.
Causes of varicose and spider veins:,/b> Heredity is the primary factor in 80% of cases, pregnancy, obesity, standing for long periods of time and injury.
Prevention: None, however you can lessen the problem. Exercise will help, especially walking. Lose weight, avoid high heels and tight panty girdles. Support hose does help, because the hose promotes circulation. Limit gravityâ€™s downward pull by elevating your legs to the level of your heart three or four times daily for 10-15 minutes.
Sclerotherapyfor small varicose veins or spider veins. Involves the injection of a solution to the diseased veins. Tt shrinks the veins and they close off and disappear. The average number of injections is 3-5. The treatment ranges from $150-$250 per injection. It takes about 25-30 minutes per treatment. The possible side effects are allergic reactions to the solution, and brownish marks near the affected skin that will fade away months afterward.
Micro-surgery-like Ambulatory phlebectomy micro-extraction for large varicose veins. A small incision is made, and the vein is pulled out in sections. The procedure takes about 2-3 hours, and costs about $3,000.
Vein Strippingis an old procedure that doctors still perform. The procedure is done in a hospital with general anesthesia, and leads to extensive scarring. The doctor actually attaches a wire pull out the vein, and is very painful. It is also not recommended by Dr. Cunningham, the physician interviewed in the story aired by The News on Six.
Laser treatmentsonly works on small veins or spider veins, and very often the treatment does not produce the desired effects.
Using the above procedures, the veins will not return. However, these procedures do not prevent new veins from forming.
Insurance will usually cover varicose vein treatment, but not the treatment of spider veins.