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How do Varicose Veins form?

Veins must transport blood from your feet and legs against the flow of gravity. One-way valves help to regulate blood flow toward the heart. However, should the veins walls and or valves become diseased or damaged, the valves cannot close properly and allow blood to flow backwards toward the feet.  This condition is known as venous reflux, and individuals with venous reflux experience complications from the blood leaking back into the veins, where it will pool, causing the veins to swell and become varicose. Other physical manifestations of venous reflux include leg swelling, skin changes and venous ulcers as the disease progresses over time.

Varicose veins are unsightly and often painful. Rope-like, twisted and usually ¼ inch or larger in diameter, varicose veins are often blue or purple in color, and can bulge outward from the skin’s surface. They have enlarged due to excess pressure and an over-accumulation of blood within the superficial saphenous venous system. Venous reflux is generally hereditary, as it tends to run in families. Lifestyle often determines the extent to which an individual will develop varicose veins and other physical manifestations and how quickly they will develop. Individuals should seek treatment for venous insufficiency as soon as possible in order to help restore optimal vascular health and to reduce the risk of further complications developing.

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Risk Factors for Varicose Veins

Approximately 30 million Americans, both men and women, suffer from chronic venous insufficiency. Varicose leg veins often affect individuals whose professions require standing for extended periods of time, because standing and walking increases the pressure on the veins in the lower extremities. Patients also become increasingly susceptible to developing varicose veins with age, as vein elasticity decreases over time, causing the valves to stretch and become weakened. Pregnancy is another factor linked to the development of varicose veins, because of the circulatory and hormonal changes the female body undergoes in response to the growing fetus.  Obesity will also put strain on an already weakened area, contributing to symptomatic varicose veins.

Symptoms of Chronic Venous Insufficiency

While some patients with early stage venous insufficiency and varicose veins may not experience any initial physical symptoms, others may experience the following:

  • Achy, heavy-feeling legs
  • Leg fatigue
  • Burning
  • Itching
  • Numbness
  • Restless legs

Diagnosing CVI

Chronic venous insufficiency and varicose veins can be diagnosed with ultrasound mapping, which provides a clear picture of the patient’s venous anatomy and blood flow, and highlights refluxing vein segments. Both the deep venous system and superficial venous system will be scanned to ensure there is no evidence of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) and provide a thorough scan of all superficial veins that could be susceptible to venous insufficiency. Because varicose veins and CVI will not resolve on their own, and can lead to other more serious vein diseases, prompt and effective medical treatment for varicose veins is essential. Fortunately, early diagnosis and treatment of vein disease can stop the disease from progressing, and can help to ease the painful and aesthetically undesirable symptoms associated with varicose veins and CVI. Rose City Vein Center provides diagnostic services and will make a determination as to whether ultrasound is necessary based upon an initial consultation with Dr. Furnary's team. Contact Us at 503-294-4030 if you would like to schedule a consultation or have questions regarding your vein health.