More Awareness of Varicose Veins is Needed
There are many misconceptions regarding varicose veins, superficial (spider) veins, and chronic venous insufficiency. Even within the medical community, there are widely held fallacies and misinformation on the topic of vein care. That’s why if you or someone you care about is suffering from varicose veins or another vascular issue, you need to be under the care of an experienced and knowledgeable vein care specialist. And if you live in the Orlando area, you are fortunate to be able to see John D. Horowitz, MD, FACS, one of the top vascular doctors in Orlando and the founder and director of Central Florida Vein & Vascular Center.
Dr. Horowitz is committed to and passionate about educating the public on venous disorders and their diagnosis, care, and treatment. He believes that too many people with vein problems simply ignore them, which can be a very serious mistake. To that end, Dr. Horowitz seeks to spread awareness of vascular issues and what causes them.
Recognizing the Symptoms
The reality is that venous insufficiency, the underlying cause of varicose veins and related vascular issues, has many warning signs or symptoms that may appear before you notice a varicose vein. These symptoms include a heaviness, warmth, tiredness, itchiness, pain, or cramping in the legs or ankles, as well as visible swelling or discoloration. In fact, sometimes a certain combination of these symptoms may appear to be merely dry skin, even to a medical professional who is not specifically trained in vascular care.
Of course, if you spot large, twisted, or knotted veins in your legs that are purple, deep red, or blue, then you already have varicose veins. At this point, you can make the wrong choice, which is to simply ignore them, or the right choice, which is to seek the appropriate care.
A word here about spider or superficial veins, which also are known as telangiectasias in the medical community: Spider veins are clusters of small red or blue veins just under the surface of the skin that have a web-like look or, in some cases, resemble tree branches. These clusters usually also can be found on the upper body, including on the face. If you notice spider veins, it is a good idea to have a vascular doctor check you out as this condition also is sometimes indicative of a more serious disorder or illness.
The Consequences of Untreated Varicose Veins
Unfortunately, spider veins and varicose veins are often left untreated even when a patient goes to his or her doctor because many general practitioners, family doctors, and other physicians and surgeons who are not vein specialists are not well-trained in diagnosing and treating vascular disorders.
Varicose veins that are left undiagnosed, or otherwise untreated, allow the continued pooling of blood in the lower limbs, which can cause or exacerbate the previously detailed varicose vein symptoms. This is a potentially tragic situation as varicose veins and other vein issues, if left untreated, can result in serious medical conditions such as chronic venous insufficiency, blood clots, and deep vein thrombosis (DVT), venous ulcers, skin disorders, and chronic high blood pressure.
Chronic venous insufficiency is a collective term used to describe a long-standing condition involving impaired venous return in varying degrees of severity. The symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency are essentially the same as for varicose veins including pain, swelling, skin issues, etc.
You may have heard of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) before. This sometimes deadly condition is the result of a blood clot forming in a deep vein. Approximately one-quarter of these blood clots leave the deep vein where they formed, using the bloodstream to make their way to the lungs and creating what is called a pulmonary embolism. A pulmonary embolism is when this well-traveled blood clot blocks an artery in the lungs, which can cause heart palpitations, fainting, or even death. The most common symptoms of DVT typically are a sudden shortness of breath, coughing up a pink and foamy mucus, and sharp pains in the chest, especially when coughing or breathing deeply. It is important to note, however, that a DVT may sometimes occur without any noticeable symptoms.
A venous leg ulcer, which typically appears around the ankle, is a weeping, open wound. The ulcer itself usually looks raw, while the adjacent skin may be dry and of a reddish-brown hue. In addition, the surrounding skin may be itchy and dry. This type of ulcer is difficult to manage because it heals slowly, and a large ulcer may even encircle the leg.
Who Gets Varicose Veins?
The truth is, anyone can get varicose veins. But there are factors that contribute to an increased likelihood of developing the condition, including:
- Family History. Yes, if you have family members who have or had varicose veins, you are more likely to develop them yourself.
- Obesity. Having those extra pounds increases your risk for varicose veins. The additional weight means a greater stress on your vascular system.
- Age. Sadly, many parts and systems in our bodies begin to deteriorate with advancing age, including the vascular system, making you more susceptible to varicose veins.
There are other factors influencing the development, such as pregnancy; as with an obese person, the extra weight puts additional strain on the veins. In addition, during pregnancy, the body increases production of certain hormones that can make you more likely to develop varicose veins.
And don’t think that just because you’re young, healthy, and exercise regularly that you are not at risk for varicose veins. In fact, certain activities, specifically those that maximize use of the legs, can actually increase your risk. But, exercising regularly generally does help reduce your risk, as a sedentary lifestyle does not promote good circulation.
You may not realize how much varicose vein treatment has progressed in recent years. In the past, treatment largely consisted of vein excisions or vein stripping and ligation, all painful surgical processes. Today’s treatment options are minimally invasive, almost painless, and do not require general anesthesia or a hospital stay. These new and innovative outpatient procedures also require very little recovery time.
These preferred therapies include endovenous laser treatment (EVLT) and ultrasound-guided foam sclerotherapy (UGS). While the treatments are vastly improved, the most important factor is having one of the top vascular doctors in Orlando to perform it. To make sure you are in good hands, contact Central Florida Vein & Vascular Center today to schedule a consultation. You can call 407-545-3385 or 352-658-5547, or contact us online.