varicose veins

At Atlantic Vein Institute, we offer a range of minimally invasive procedures to eliminate varicose veins and make legs look better and feel healthier.

What are Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins are enlarged leg veins that bulge outward and often are associated with leg aching, heaviness & cramping. Varicose veins commonly worsen over time and can produce increased discomfort, leg swelling, skin changes, restless leg syndrome and risk for blood clots.

Normally veins in the leg carry blood from the lower leg to the upper leg against the steady downward force of gravity. Small, fraglie one-way valves in the veins ensure the proper direction of flow up the leg. If these tiny valves are damaged or cease to function normally, the veins lose the ability to push the blood upwards, and the pressure of gravity causes pooling of venous blood in the leg. As this pressure is transmitted from the inner leg to the outer leg, the surface veins bulge, leading to varicose veins. The normally straight veins become overloaded with blood causing the swelling and twisting that you see at the surface of the leg.

Most varicose veins cause symptoms of aching, heaviness, fatigue, itching or swelling. We find some patients who even in the absence of symptoms, have skin discoloration due to the pooling.

People are born with an overabundance of leg veins, and treatment of these varicose veins is extremely effective, easing the symptoms and improving the appearance greatly. You will never "run out" of leg veins, even if new veins require treatment.

What Causes Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins are caused by venous insufficiency, which prevents the proper flow of blood and allows it to pool in the leg veins. This causes the bulging and symptoms described above. The normal flow of venous blood is up the leg, against the steady force of gravity. One-way valves in the veins propel blood in the proper direction, but if the valves weaken, the direction of flow reverses. This is known as reflux. Venous reflux leads to varicose veins.

The varicose veins that you see on the surface are much larger than normal leg veins and may have a bluish hue due to the increased volume of blood present. The veins may even feel warm to the touch because of the increased volume of blood present so close to the skin.

Genetics plays a big role in determining who is likely to develop varicose veins. In addition, multiple pregnancies, prior blood clots, obesity and leg trauma can lead to these protruding veins.

A duplex ultrasound scan is performed to establish an accurate diagnosis of varicose vein pain and facilitate an effective and durable treatment plan so that the risk of future leg vein problems is minimized.

What Are The Symptoms of Varicose Veins?

  • Aching legs, usually worse as the day progresses
  • Throbbing along the enlarged veins where pressure increases
  • Itching at the site of skin discoloration (dermatitis)
  • Swollen legs, especially in the lower legs when blood does not exit the leg normally
  • General discomfort
  • Restless legs, which often respond very well to varicose vein treatments
  • Skin changes
  • Open sores or ulcers

Who Has The Highest Varicose Vein Risk?

Varicose veins will afflict approximately 20% of all adults by age 60. Varicose vein risk factors include the following:

  • Varicose veins may develop during pregnancy or as the result of hormonal changes during menopause
  • Family history can put you at higher varicose vein risk
  • Those suffering from obesity are more likely to have varicose veins
  • Occupational and lifestyle factors requiring long periods of standing can also lead to varicose veins, as can other vein diseases such as blood clots.