The Stages of Vein Disease — and When You Should Seek Treatment
Varicose veins are one of several stages in the progression of vein disease. Knowing the early signs of venous insufficiency prevents more serious complications in the future.
According to the Society of Vascular Surgery, vein disease affects about 40 percent of the population. Known as chronic venous insufficiency, vein disease refers to a group of symptoms and conditions that indicate your veins aren’t smoothly transporting blood through your arteries and veins.
Like many diseases, chronic vein disease advances in stages. In the early stages, you may not experience uncomfortable symptoms and consider the condition merely a cosmetic issue. Yet as the disease progresses, symptoms may become increasingly painful and debilitating. Therefore, if you spot the disease in its earliest form, you should seek treatment at that point to prevent further complications.
The 6 Stage of Vein Disease
The vascular system consists of arteries and veins. Arteries flood the body with oxygen-filled blood from the heart. Veins then take that blood back to the heart with the help of two tiny valves in each vein. Over time, those valves weaken due to a number of factors, such as age, obesity, heredity, or sedentary lifestyle. Because the valves do not close tightly, blood seeps back into the vein, leading to poor circulation and vein disease that manifests in these six stages:
Spider Veins. Named for their web-like appearance, blue- or red-colored spider or reticular veins appear on the surface of the skin on the leg, ankle, or sometimes the face. Spider veins lie flat and don’t typically cause any discomfort. Nevertheless, spider veins are an early sign that your veins aren’t working properly.
Varicose Veins. Varicose veins are probably the most common and notable sign of chronic vein disease. As blood continues to pool in the legs veins — which fight the hardest of all veins against the force of gravity — the vein eventually enlarges to the point where it protrudes from underneath the skin. In addition to their visible appearance varicose veins may also cause itching, cramping, pain, and heaviness in the leg. At this stage, you may seek treatment for the unsightly appearance and discomfort.
Swelling. Insufficient blood flow in the veins may also lead to fluid accumulating in the leg. This fluid build up causes swelling in the calf, ankle, or feet. Swelling may be accompanied by taut skin. Although elevating your legs may temporarily relieve the swelling, you should have the condition evaluated by a vein specialist.
Skin Changes. Progressive vein disease can bring about skin discolorations and other skin changes. For instance, you may notice your skin turning brown and leathery in appearance. The skin could thicken and become itchy, as well. Home remedies, such as elevating your legs or applying creams, may not improve skin texture, so you need to consult with your doctor for medical treatment.
Ulcers. If vein disease isn’t treated after swelling and skin changes become apparent, the next stage are skin ulcerations that leak green or yellow fluid. Because blood cannot reach the skin due to clogged veins, the skin is blocked from receiving healing nutrients. Eventually, open sores or ulcers emerge on the calves or ankles. Left untreated, these painful ulcers could lead to infections. Immediate medical intervention is needed to address these difficult-to-treat sores.
Venous Hypertension. Chronic venous insufficiency may lead to venous hypertension, or exceedingly high blood pressure in the leg veins. Swelling, skin changes, and ulcerations could also be the result of venous hypertension.
Don’t Delay Treatment
Treating vein disease at the earliest stages prevents more serious complications down the road. Whatever stage you believe you are in, the specialists at Center for Vein Restoration will evaluate and provide an individualized plan of care to restore your vein health. Contact us today for a consultation.