Many people believe that the main reason to see a physician about a vein problem is a cosmetic one. In fact, vascular issues can lead to significant complications requiring treatment by a vein specialist. Being aware of both the signs of and the risk factors for vein disease helps patients seek and receive early treatment. This can help prevent serious problems.
Symptoms of Vein Disease
The Office of Women’s Health (OWH) reports that as many as 55 percent of U.S. women and 45 percent of men have some type of vein issue. Varicose veins affect one of every two people who are at least 50 years old.
These abnormal vessels typically appear dark blue or purple and have a bulging, ropelike appearance. They most often develop in the legs. While many patients with varicose vessels consider them primarily a cosmetic annoyance, potential complications include ulcers, blood clots, and burst veins that bleed.
According to the Mayo Clinic, these are the most common varicose vein symptoms:
- A feeling of aching or heaviness in the legs
- Sensations of muscle cramping, swelling, throbbing, and burning in the lower legs
- Pain that worsens after prolonged standing or sitting
- Itching around a vein
- Bleeding from a vein
- The appearance of a cord in a vein plus a reddish skin discoloration
Individuals who experience vein hardening, color changes, or skin ulcers or inflammation near the ankle might already have a serious type of vascular disease that requires timely evaluation by a specialist.
The OWH notes that patients should get an evaluation from a vein doctor if a vein looks red or is swollen, very tender, or warm. Other indications include a rash or sores on the limb or near an ankle, symptoms that interfere with normal activities, or a thickening and color change of skin on the calf and the ankle. Any sign of pain, even a dull ache, warrants assessment by a vascular specialist.
Common Risk Factors
Patients at elevated risk for vein disease should also seek an evaluation from a vein doctor. According to the University of California San Francisco, the common factors include:
- A family history
- Being female
- Carrying excess weight
- Occupation or lifestyle that includes sitting or standing for prolonged periods
Vascular specialists perform comprehensive exams that can identify early vein problems in at-risk individuals. Two common diagnostic tests include a Doppler ultrasound and an angiogram.
Vein doctors offer a variety of therapies that are convenient for patients. The most conservative are lifestyle changes such as shedding extra weight and getting more physical exercise.
A number of minimally invasive procedures are available on an outpatient basis and allow individuals to return quickly to work or other normal daily activities. Among them are sclerotherapy for spider veins and small varicose vessels, an ambulatory phlebectomy, and the VNUS Closure® procedure.