Healthy veins act as a return passage for blood from the body back to the heart. Conversely, arteries are the blood vessels that take blood from the heart to the body. When this blood flow from the lower extremities to the heart is compromised complications may arise. This can happen as blood has a difficult time moving up the lower extremity against gravity to the heart. Over time, and due to multiple factors, the lower extremity veins can become incompetent, making the “climb” of blood up the veins difficult and insufficient. This insufficiency can cause many lower extremity symptoms and varicose veins. In severe cases of superficial vein disease, the deep venous system is also negatively affected.
At the Vein Institute of Pittsburgh℠, we give our patients an ultrasound of their lower extremity veins to make sure veins are functioning as they should. If insufficient veins are detected during the ultrasound and physical examination, one of our physicians or our physician assistant will make the appropriate medical recommendations for you. Most care begins with prescription grade compression stockings which are required before surgical treatments can commence per most insurance providers. Once surgical treatment begins, each procedure is done by our surgeon Dr. Terrance Krysinski, MD in our Warrendale office and is relatively fast and involves minimal downtime and short recovery periods. Each procedure is done on an outpatient basis requiring only local anesthesia; patients can drive themselves home.
What are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are veins that have become abnormally swollen and large as the result of venous reflux or insufficiency. Varicose veins are generally the result of valves within the veins becoming defective and insufficient. These congested veins often form tortuous, bulging branches that one can see and feel. These enlarged varicose veins are sometimes bluish-green in color and can often become painful as they progress.
What causes them?
Our lower extremity veins are designed with one-way valves to aid in unidirectional blood flow up the lower extremity. These valves prevent the back flow or “reflux” of blood toward the feet, where gravity would otherwise draw the blood while one is standing or walking.
Due to factors such as genetic predisposition, the exposure of certain hormones in the body to the smooth muscle in the vein wall, the lower extremity vein walls can become weak. Once the vein walls weaken, they increase in diameter resulting in valve malfunction.
Other risk factors for venous disease include pregnancy, obesity, hormone replacement therapy, the use of female oral birth control and occupations that require frequent or prolonged standing. Since females often have multiple risk factors for the development of varicose veins, about 75% of the persons who have varicose veins are women; 25% are men.
Occupations that require a lot of sitting or standing on the job can negatively impact the flow of blood up from the legs. Commonly affected occupations include healthcare workers, retail clerks, teachers, postal workers, restaurant servers and flight attendants.
Why should I have them treated?
For some patients, varicose veins prompt a cosmetic concern initially because of the unsightly appearance of bulging veins. More concerning, however, is that diseased veins that are prone to becoming varicose can negatively impact one’s quality of life causing a wide variety of symptoms.
Patients with venous disease often suffer from leg aching, heaviness, fatigue, swelling among other symptoms. In some cases, venous disease can also lead to skin discoloration, rashes, chronic wounds known as venous ulcers, and blood clots.
Treatment of venous disease, including varicose veins, improves the quality of life, prevents a more extensive venous disease from developing, and reduces the risk of developing serious complications.
I have been told I have venous disease or varicose veins. What can be done?
At the Vein Institute of Pittsburgh℠, we offer effective treatments for lower extremity vein disease, including varicose veins. Treatment modalities include endovenous laser ablation (EVLA), microphlebectomy and sclerotherapy.
Summary of Venous Disease and Varicose Vein Symptoms
- Aching of the legs after long periods of time
- Pain alleviated when legs are elevated
- Burning sensations in the legs
- Heaviness in the legs
- Restless legs
- Swelling of surface veins
- Bruising and discoloration
- Ulcers on the legs
Terrance R. Krysinski, MD and his medical team understand the negative impact that varicose veins can have on your quality of life and their additional cosmetic concerns. We treat varicose veins everyday. Call Vein Institute of Pittsburgh℠ at 724-934-VEIN to schedule your initial evaluation.