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About Varicose Veins

Expert Care for Varicose Veins

At The Vein Institute & MediSpa, vein specialist Dr. Raymond Little is Houston’s expert in diagnosing and treating varicose and spider veins. After an evaluation, he will explain the condition to you and outline all the available treatment options.

What are varicose veins?

Varicose veins, or varicosities, are large, “rope-like” veins that appear near the surface of the skin. They are often one-quarter inch or larger in diameter and most commonly found in the feet and legs. They very rarely cause symptoms, but may cause burning, muscle cramping, skin ulcers, or pain. Varicose veins may lead to more serious problems such as blood clots.

Because they are often visible, a vascular specialist can make an accurate diagnosis upon a physical exam with no further testing needed.

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What causes varicose veins?

Varicose veins occur when veins do not properly return blood from the lower leg to the heart. All veins have valves that open to allow the flow of blood to the heart and close to prevent backflow (otherwise known as “reflux”) of blood to the foot.

When valves fail to function properly, blood leaks through and flows down the leg in the wrong direction. The blood overfills and distends the superficial veins under the skin, resulting in the bulging seen in varicose veins.

The walls and valves of veins are thin and elastic and can stretch due to a variety of conditions including pregnancy, heredity, and age. When varicose veins become severe, it is referred to as chronic venous insufficiency. Symptoms include aching pain, easy leg fatigue, and leg heaviness, all of which worsen as the day progresses. Left untreated, chronic venous insufficiency can cause ulcerations, which can be very difficult to treat.

How common are varicose veins and am I at risk?

Approximately half of the population has some form of venous disease. Varicose veins affect about one out of two people age 50 and older, and 15-25% of all adults.

Risk factors for varicose veins include pregnancy, advanced age, and standing on your feet or sitting for long periods of time. Nurses, flight attendants, hairdressers, and others in occupations that are frequently on their feet may be more susceptible to varicose veins. Obesity also increases your risk for varicose veins as does being female. Hormonal changes may be responsible for the higher risk in women.

Varicose veins may be hereditary, so if an immediate family member has them, you may be more likely to develop varicose veins.

Varicose Veins Treatments

Varicose vein treatment is most commonly performed on an outpatient basis. Treatment options include compression stockings, sclerotherapy, endovenous laser therapy, microphlebectomy, and surgical vein stripping, depending on the severity of the affected veins and their location.

If your varicose veins are the result of obesity, your doctor may recommend exercise and weight loss before referring you to a vein specialist like Dr. Little. Other lifestyle changes that may be recommended include elevating your legs, not standing or sitting for long periods of time, and wearing only loose-fitting clothing.

Request an appointment online at Houston’s leading vascular treatment practice, The Vein Institute & MediSpa, or call (281) 312-0208 to learn more about varicose vein treatment and removal with our advanced technologies.