Varicose Veins Are Only Symptoms of a Disease

varicose veins are symptoms of a disease

Varicose veins are symptoms of a disease called venous insufficiency. To better understand how they form, we must understand how veins function. Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to all areas of the body. Veins are the vessels that carry oxygen-depleted blood back to the heart to be re-oxygenated. In order to return blood from the feet and legs back to the heart, veins in the legs must work extra hard against gravity.

Valves in the veins open the pathway as blood flows toward the heart, and then close to keep blood from flowing backward (as gravity would have it do). When these valves become weak or damaged, some blood can flow backward and pool in the veins causing pressure to build up. This pressure can make the veins stretch, twist, and protrude from the skin causing classic varicose veins to appear.

There Are Many Varicose Vein Treatment Options

The good news is that there are many different ways to treat varicose veins and almost all are outpatient varicose vein procedures that don’t require surgery or downtime. Once veins are treated, they will not return, but because venous insufficiency is a disease, other veins may fail and need treatment in the future. Dr. Barbieri will evaluate your condition and recommend an individual treatment regimen for each patient. Treatments usually take less than two hours. Most patients will require several treatments to fully eliminate existing varicose veins.

Venous Insufficiency Should Be Continually Monitored

Because varicose veins are a symptom of a broader disease, Dr. Barbieri always recommends that patients come in every year or two for checkups to make sure that their legs and veins are being monitored on a regular basis. If you suffer from venous insufficiency, you won’t be “cured”. Your varicose veins can be treated, but they are simply the symptoms of an ongoing disease. It’s important that patients understand this so that they aren’t disappointed if new varicose veins appear and that they seek ongoing evaluations from a phlebologist (specialist in the examination, prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation of venous diseases).

Risk Factors for Varicose Veins

There are certain people who are more at risk of developing venous insufficiency disease (and thus, varicose veins). The following can increase the risk of developing varicose veins:

  • Older Adults – As we age, the wear and tear on valves in the veins can start to take a toll. Eventually, stressed weaker valves will fail and cause blood to flow backwards and pool in the veins causing varicose veins to appear.
  • Gender – Women are more likely to develop venous insufficiency because of hormonal changes. Hormonal changes before a menstrual period or during pregnancy or menopause might be a factor because female hormones tend to relax vein walls. Hormone treatments, like birth control pills, might also increase the risk of developing varicose veins.
  • Pregnancy – During pregnancy, a woman’s blood volume in the body increases. This happens to support the growing baby but can also enlarge the veins in the legs and put added pressure on them.
  • Heredity – If other family members had varicose veins, there’s a greater chance you will too.
  • Obesity – Being overweight puts added pressure on veins which can cause issues including varicose veins.
  • Inactivity – Standing or sitting for long periods of time is not healthy for veins. Movement helps blood flow.

Venous Insufficiency Is an Ongoing Condition

Venous disease is ongoing, no one will be varicose vein/venous disease free but you can live your best life partnering with us to monitor your legs. If you suffer from varicose veins or fall into any of the higher-risk categories, make an appointment with Dr. Barbieri for an evaluation. He will let you know about your condition and the various varicose vein treatment options that are available.

Persistent Leg Pain Could Be a Sign of Phantom Varicose Veins

Also, it’s important to be aware that varicose veins can be present even if you can’t see them. Phantom varicose veins may not be visible to the naked eye, but they can cause significant pain and discomfort. If you’re experiencing persistent leg pain, aching, or other unexplained discomfort in your lower extremities, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.

Subtle symptoms of phantom varicose veins can make them easily overlooked or mistaken for other conditions. If you are experiencing any leg pain, itching, aching, heaviness, swelling, cramping, or restless leg syndrome at night, make an appointment for an evaluation today. Call Vein Clinic of Greater Kansas City at (913) 541-3377 in Overland Park or (816) 792-1188 in Liberty or fill out this form to schedule your evaluation.