The veins are the “straws” of our bodies, so to speak. Our veins return blood back to our heart. However, if the walls of these important blood transporters are damaged, pressure can build up within them, which can slow the blood flow. The slower the blood moves through those veins, the more likely clots are to form. Eventually, this will lead to a multitude of health problems encompassed within and known as venous disease. This disease can permanently damage your lymphatic system and progressive vein wall damage.
Here are some of the risk factors for venous disease that you should be aware of:
- 50+ years of age
- Being overweight
- Prolonged sitting or standing
Though it may be common, if left untreated or cared for, venous disease can quickly become deadly. Therefore, if you are showing any of these signs, speak with your doctor and seek medical attention; the sooner, the better!
Early Stages of Venous Disease
There are stages of venous disease that can be separated into early stages and later stages. In the early stages of venous disease, one can experience “spider veins” in their legs, arms, or on other areas of their bodies. Spider veins are so named because of their “web-like” look. Small veins or blood vessels very close to the surface of the skin. They can often look like intertwined red and purple lines right under the skin. They are flat on the skin, not raised, so you would not be feel them by touching them. Nevertheless, when you see these spider veins, taking a proactive approach with your health provider can limit the damage done to your lymphatic system by implementing spider vein treatment that is best for you.
Also in the early stages of venous disease are varicose veins. This is usually the stage in which one begins to be aware of their venous disease. Similarly to spider veins, these veins are close to the surface of the skin. However, unlike spider veins, varicose veins are very painful. They tend to be more unsightly than spider veins, causing sufferers to become self-conscious about them. Varicose veins can also cause itching, tingling, and swelling near the affected area, as well as restlessness and heaviness in the legs. If you are at this stage of venous disease, it is not too late to work with your doctor and discuss a plan for varicose vein treatment.
Later Stages of Venous Disease
In the later stages of venous disease, your body is at more risk of severely detrimental effects. Initially, the skin will begin to change and swell. When your leg veins are not properly sending blood to your heart, your body struggles to absorb fluid. Therefore, fluid is retained around the legs, causing swelling and can even change the color of your skin in that area. The affected area may begin to look pale or red in color. During this stage, you are very susceptible to sores on your body that take a longer time to heal. These sores can become toxic to your bloodstream, so it is very important that you treat these sores and the underlying causes as soon as possible.
Also in the later stages, you may begin to develop venous leg ulcers. Because of the inadequate blood flow to your legs, healing from skin lesions is hindered. Your skin heals very slowly, or maybe not at all. These ulcers can be recurring, and are often very painful and debilitating. If these ulcer continue to worsen, they can bring bacteria back into your bloodstream. Along with causing even more pain, this can spread the infection to other areas of the body that are difficult to control. This can quickly become a life-threatening situation. If you are in the later stages of venous disease, contact your doctor or cardiologist to begin a treatment plan.
Venous disease can start in small displays on your body, but begin to decline rather quickly. Being aware of these stages can potentially give you a leg up on the disease, if treated soon enough (pun intended). In fact, both spider veins and varicose veins may be removed in some cases. There are also several other treatments that your doctors may discuss with you. These may include, but are not limited to:
- Wearing compression stocks/stockings
- Sclerotherapy (Injection of a saline solution into the veins to treat spider and varicose veins)
- Microphlebectomy (Removal of bulging veins in small segments through the skin)
- Endovenous Thermal Ablation (Laser therapy to target diseased veins)