I’ve never been too focused on my legs. Ok that is not entirely true. When I was younger I was obsessed with the cold hard fact that at four feet 11 inches my legs were short and stocky and no matter what I did- short of taking a magic pill I would never be one of those women who possessed fabulously long legged gams. The good news I learned as I got older was I could wear super high heels which would give my legs the illusions of height but I also learned that such a practice would wreak havoc on my poor and currently incredibly jacked up toes ( if Eddie Murphy and I were laying in bed in that movie boomerang there’s a really good chance he would kicked me right out of it-but I digress).
So back to my legs and my life-long desire to attain thighs and calves that don’t appear portly so much so that I agreed to begin running with my husband who swore such exercise with outfit me with sleek legs that would be the envy of petite girls everywhere. And of course I believed him -because being a life-long runner ( who is NOT deterred by snow, sleet, hail or rain) I am slightly envious of his nary-a-speck-of-cellulite thighs and just-the-right-amount-muscle calves.
Unfortunately after my second experience running alongside my husband I noticed that my calves were sporting some NOT too pretty -under the skin dark colored veins- that look as through a child has used a crayon to trace the tracks of my veins as they course through my calves. Luckily for me one of the perks of being a Smart Beauty Blogger is that if I find my legs are all of a sudden taken over by what appears to be some kind of spider/ varicose vein syndrome- rather than ask Dr. Google for her opinion I can go straight to the source- aka Robert W. Kessler, M.D., FACS keep reading for Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Vein Disease But Were Too Squeamish to ask!
How is vein disease diagnosed?
Venous disease refers primarily to venous insufficiency. This is when the valves in the veins of the pelvis and legs weaken and allow blood to pool in the legs. This can be the result of hypertension caused by pregnancy, child birth, blood clots that form in the veins either from trauma or underlying blood disorders. The best tests to evaluate the venous system are called duplex ultrasounds. They look at structure and real time blood flow. A clinical diagnosis is easy to make when large blue veins are seen in the legs, varicose veins, and when the lower extremity by the ankles become swollen firm and discolored but this is a more advanced stage of the disease.
What are varicose veins?
Unlike arteries, veins have no muscle in their walls, so blood is pushed through the system. Once it passes a valve it can not flow backwards. If valves are disrupted or impaired blood does flow back down the leg and pools. The veins increase in size because of the increased blood present in them. Over time they become large and thin. They become more and more obvious through the surface of the skin.
What are spider veins?
These are fine capillaries that are present in the superficial tissue and skin. They usually appear in regions of low grade trauma such as a resolving bruise. They are also a result of increased pressure within the vascular system but of a lesser degree. These vessels easily blanch when manipulated and respond to ablation with sclerosing or laser.
What are the risk factors for varicose veins and spider veins?
The risk with varicose veins are significant. The most troubling is the development of venous hypertension of the leg which can lead to nonhealing ulcers called venous stasis ulcers. Deep vein thrombosis is also a risk. This is when blood clots form in the veins of the leg and pelvis. Pieces of these clots can break off and travel to the lung causing a pulmonary embolus or stroke. Lastly superficial varicose veins can rupture and bleed requiring emergency care. There are no complications from spider veins.
How can I treat these vein problems?
Varicose veins can be managed initially with compression stockings. As the condition worsens surgical intervention is necessary. This is now commonly addressed with endovascular surgery using lasers. The varicose veins can also be surgically stripped but this is an older less commonly used technique. Spider veins respond to laser treatments or sclerosis with chemical agents as an in office procedure but may require multiple treatments to completely remove the veins. Compression stockings can also be helpful.
For even more information check out 6 ways to correct spider and varicose veins