For many people, vein problems like varicose veins may seem like a cosmetic issue. However, it’s possible they can indicate a medical concern as well, so it’s important to see a vascular surgeon for a proper diagnosis and to rule out any serious conditions.
With over two decades of experience, Dr. Mark Schwartz provides the most up-to-date, minimally invasive procedures for a wide range of vein issues at North Shore Vein Center in New Hyde Park, New York. He and our highly skilled staff can address spider and varicose veins as well as hand veins, facial veins, and more at our nationally-recognized center for excellence.
Arteries and veins work together to keep blood flowing through our bodies, with arteries taking it away from the heart and veins bringing the blood back. Especially in the legs, the veins must defy gravity and use muscle contractions to accomplish this. Valves in the veins open to allow the blood to flow through and then close to prevent it from moving backward.
However, if there is a problem with these valves being weak or damaged, as in the case of varicose veins, the blood can collect in the vein instead of moving properly. This may cause venous insufficiency.
Another cause of venous insufficiency can be blood clots. also known as deep vein thrombosis. The clot may block the blood flowing through the vein back to the heart.
Symptoms of a problem
Venous insufficiency can manifest itself in a number of different symptoms. They can include swelling of the legs or ankles, a throbbing, achiness, or heavy feeling in the legs, and/or pain that gets worse when standing and better when the legs are raised. Additional signs can be weakness, itchiness, and skin that thickens or changes color. Leg ulcers are another indication of a problem.
Diagnosis typically includes a thorough physical exam and medical history. Imaging tests may also be ordered, such as a venogram, which uses contrast dye to show the blood vessels on an X-ray and/or a duplex ultrasound that can measure the blood’s direction and speed.
Getting a proper diagnosis and treatment plan is key to avoiding the potential for serious complications like ulcers, bleeding from a burst vein close to the surface of the skin, or a blood clot breaking free.
Treatment depends on a variety of factors including the condition, its severity, and its symptoms as well as the individual’s age, medical history, and overall health. Compression stockings and medications are two options along with procedures like sclerotherapy and endovenous laser ablation, which shut off blood flow and divert it to a healthy vein.
If you’re experiencing swelling or pain in your legs or changes to your skin, call our office today for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.