Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are relatively common. About 30 percent of women and 15 percent of men in their forties and older have them. For some people, varicose veins are a purely cosmetic issue. However, varicosities can also cause aching, throbbing, leg heaviness and fatigue, and swollen limbs. In more serious cases, varicosities can lead to superficial vein blood clots (thrombophlebitis), bleeding episodes, and chronic venous stasis disease, a form of progressive skin damage that can lead to ulcers and infection.

Risk Factors for Varicose Veins

  • Increasing Age
  • Being Female
  • Family History
  • Leg Trauma or Surgery
  • History of Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT)
  • Obesity
  • Multiple Pregnancies
  • Sedentary Lifestyle (or a job that involves prolonged standing)

Treatment for varicose veins is considered medically indicated when the patient is experiencing discomfort or complications.

Causes of Varicose Veins

There are two systems of veins: a deep system, contained within the muscle and not visible from the outside, and a superficial system, which is just under the skin surface. Healthy leg veins have valves that open and close to keep blood moving back to the heart.

Most people with varicose veins will have a problem with the valves. When these valves are damaged or diseased, they don’t close properly, and blood flow is impaired. This is known as superficial venous reflux. Blood pools in the leg veins, leading to spider veins, reticular veins and varicose veins. If the valves in the deep system are not functioning, you get swelling (edema). If the superficial vein valves are the problem, you get superficial venous reflux. Left untreated, superficial venous reflux can worsen over time.

The traditional treatment for varicose veins and superficial venous reflux disease is the removal of the entire vein through a surgical procedure called vein stripping. This procedure requires incisions in the groin and calf and can be quite painful. Fortunately, MarinHealth offers an innovative, minimally invasive treatment called Venefit™.

Learn more about vascular screenings.