Varicose veins and spider veins can merely cause an unsightly appearance to the skin surface or lead to problems in blood circulation and other health disorders. While the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery describes spider veins as consequent to the dilation of a cluster of blood vessels near the the surface, varicose veins are swollen veins that often have a meandering appearance. Obesity is a leading cause of both varicose and spider veins in the legs, because additional pressure is placed on the venous (away from the heart) blood flow via gravity.
Palm Vein Center can surgically treat your varicosity—whether for cosmetic or medical reasons. Described below are some of the risk factors for varicose and/or spider veins, as well as some medical disorders associated with varicose and/or spider veins.
Who is at Risk for Varicose or Spider Veins?
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the most common risk factors (besides obesity) are:
- Older age (e.g.,at least 40 years old);
- Family history (i.e.,mother, father, or siblings with a varicosity condition);
- Previous leg trauma;
- Sedentary lifestyle
Circulatory Disorders Linked to Varicose and Spider Veins
Thrombophlebitis is a condition in which venous blood clots form (usually in the lower extremities). Between 3-11 percent of the US population is estimated to have symptomatic superficial thrombophlebitis (according to an article in Phlebolymphology). The resulting venous clots impede blood circulation in the affected region of the body. This can not only cause pain and discoloration, but edema(swelling) and gangrene (in severe circumstances). In turn, gangrene in the toes and feet can lead to the need for amputation.
While thrombophlebitis has been linked to varicose and spider veins, underlying disorders may predispose a person to its development (such as having a hypercoagulatory disorder). Meanwhile, a Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) can cause a venous clot to travel through the circulatory system and result in a potentially fatal pulmonary embolism or heart attack.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) – Causal Factors
Besides aging and obesity, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons includes the following as increasing the likelihood of DVT development (whether symptomatic or asymptomatic):
- Living with certain types of cancers;
- Regularly using birth control pills or hormone therapy;
- Having varicose veins or other venous disorder
Insertion of a peripheral intravenous catheterduring a hospitalization (or for dialysis) has also been linked to a heightened risk for the development of either superficial thrombophlebitis or DVT.
Meanwhile, four genetic clotting disorders (recognized as increasing the risk for thrombophlebitis or DVT development) are known as:
- Factor V Leiden
- Prothrombin Mutation
- Antithrombin Deficiency
- Elevated Lipoprotein(a)
Autoimmune Disorders and Spider Veins
Scleroderma and autoimmune hepatitis are two autoimmune diseases that are associated with the development of spider veins (per the Livestrong Foundation website). Likewise Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is also associated with a higher risk for spider vein development. In these disorders, vasculitis is often a manifestation.
Cosmetic Reasons for Varicose and Spider Vein Removal
Embarrassment over the unsightly appearance of varicose veins in the legs can lead afflicted people to not want to wear certain summer attire (e.g.,shorts and bathing suits). This can lead to limiting preferred leisure activities in order to avoid having other people see varicose-veined legs. Rather than living with feelings of embarrassment and shame, undergoing a vein-stripping procedure can be a way to return legs to a pre-varicose vein appearance.
The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.
For more information on vein diseases and the treatments provided by the specialists at Palm Vein Center or to make an appointment, call 623-201-4777. We look forward to meeting you!