Varicose veins

Leg with Spider veins

What are varicose veins?

Veins in the leg that become swollen are known as varicose veins. Veins can become varicose when the vein valves that regulate the direction of blood flow become damaged or diseased, weaken and no longer function properly. Instead of blood moving toward the heart like it should, blood stays in place and pools in the vein of the leg. The veins are enlarged and can be blue, red or flesh-colored. They are often raised above the skin on legs and look like twisted, bulging chords.

If left untreated, varicose veins can progress to a more serious form of vein (venous) disease called Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI). CVI is a progressive medical condition that may worsen over time and affects the veins and vessels in the leg that carry oxygen-poor blood back toward the heart.

Given the prevailing misunderstanding that varicose veins are only a cosmetic issue, only 1.9 million of the more than 30 million Americans who suffer from varicose veins or CVI seek treatment.

What are the signs and symptoms of CVI?

Varicose Veins examplesThe signs and symptoms of CVI worsen over time and include pain, swelling, restlessness and fatigue of the legs. Skin damage and ulcers can occur in more severe cases. Those with CVI may experience symptoms that make walking and everyday tasks difficult.

How are varicose veins treated?

Healthy Vein and Diseased Vein>As varicose veins are often misunderstood as a cosmetic problem, many people living with them do not seek treatment. The good news is that there are minimally-invasive treatment options available for varicose veins and CVI that are covered by many insurance plans. These treatments address the condition before it progresses further, allowing for a short, comfortable recovery and a quick return to everyday activities.

The treatment of large varicose leg veins has advanced significantly over the past five years. Previously, most large varicose veins were treated through an in-hospital procedure commonly known as vein stripping. Vein stripping removes the problematic veins, but the postoperative recovery can be painful and prolonged. Today, however, there are several less invasive options which can effectively treat the majority of varicose vein patients.