At Cross County Cardiology – Mount Sinai, we have extensive experience diagnosing and treating varicose veins. Varicose veins are swollen and twisted veins near the skin’s surface. The veins are damaged as a result of vein disease. In healthy veins, tiny one-way valves make sure that blood is pumped in only one direction. They ensure the blood moves toward the heart. Once the blood has passed through the veins, the valves close so that it cannot flow back into the veins. If you have a vein disease called chronic venous insufficiency, these valves become “leaky” and allow blood to flow back into the veins. The blood collects there, causing the veins to swell and become discolored. Often, these swollen, discolored veins become visible through the skin.
Varicose veins can grow quite large (4 to 5 millimeters) and take on a gnarled, ropy appearance. Left untreated, they can also cause changes to the color and texture of the skin that covers them. Even small varicose veins impair your circulation. Common effects of varicose veins include tired and weak legs, swollen legs and ankles, and leg ulcers that can get so severe it becomes difficult to stand or walk.
If varicose veins are small and not causing you pain, we can treat them conservatively. This means making changes in your diet, exercise, and lifestyle. We may also recommend you wear compression stockings to improve your circulation.
If the symptoms are more uncomfortable, or if you want to remove varicose veins for cosmetic reasons, there are a number of treatment options. These include ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy and endovenous laser therapy.
Spider veins are the smaller “cousins” of varicose veins. They are thinner and narrower than varicose veins. They got their name because they often form web-like patterns. Spider veins can be blue, purple, or red. Generally, they do not protrude above the normal surface of the skin the way varicose veins do. They most commonly appear on the surface of the skin on the ankles and legs, although they may also appear on the arms or neck.
Spider veins are not as large as varicose veins, but they can indicate that you have vein disease and a compromised circulatory system. They can cause some of the same side effects as varicose veins. That means swollen legs, chronic tiredness and weakness, and an impaired immune system.
Treatment of Spider Veins
Spider veins can be caused by the same chronic venous insufficiency that leads to varicose veins. Before we treat them with sclerotherapy or other injection treatments, we do a complete assessment to find out whether the superficial spider veins are being caused by some underlying problem in deeper veins. If that is the case, we must treat the deeper cause first, before we can address the spider veins.