Venous disease can take many forms, from spider veins to venous ulcers. Here’s how to spot the different stages and determine the most effective treatments for each.
More than 25 million people suffer from some form of venous insufficiency, but not all display the same symptoms. Varicose veins are the most common sign of this condition, which occurs when the valves in the veins struggle to pump blood back up to the heart.
According to the CEAP official classification system, there are seven stages of venous disease. Some types cause mild discomfort, while others result in severe pain that can curtail a person’s quality of life. Below are the signs and symptoms of each, along with treatment options to manage all types of venous insufficiency.
The 7 Stages of Venous Disease
CO: In this stage, there are no signs of venous diseases. Generally, this means that the veins are functioning normally and able to return blood to the heart.
C1: Spider Veins. Also known as telangiectasia or reticular veins, these red, blue, and purple veins rise to the surface, typically on the legs, upper thighs, and around the ankles, in a tangled pattern. When found on the legs, spider veins may indicate “hidden” varicose veins.
C2: Varicose Veins. When blood doesn’t pump back to the heart because the valves in our veins are under too much pressure, the veins start to swell on the surface of the skin. Varicose veins often cause the legs to ache, cramp, and itch. Many patients also report a heavy feeling in the affected area.
C3: Edema. Venous insufficiency may lead to swelling in the legs. In fact, it’s the most common cause of lower extremity edema in adults over 50. To manage the edema, the underlying cause must be treated. Certain therapies can help to bring down the swelling, such as compression garments.
C4: Skin Changes. Venous disease can change the texture, color, and overall look of the skin. Eczema and discolored blotches are two signs that venous insufficiency has altered the skin.
C5: Healed Venous Ulcer. Due to excess pressure on the veins and restricted blood flow, tissue may die and form an open ulcer. Once flow is returned to normal, the ulcer tends to heal on its own.
C6: Active Venous Ulcer: Though only seen in 1% of the population, active venous ulcers can be debilitating for the sufferer. Prolonged therapy, however, is useful in treating the condition. Fortunately, if the patient goes through early endovenous ablation and compression therapy, the wound often heals faster.
Effective Treatment Options for Venous Disease
The different stages of venous disease respond best to a customized approach based on the patient’s unique symptoms. Luckily, today’s patients have many choices of non-invasive procedures. Of course, wearing compression stockings and avoiding long periods of sitting or standing can help prevent the condition altogether.
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of venous disease, consult a vein specialist immediately. They can help you understand the underlying cause, examine your treatment options, and alleviate any discomfort. The doctors at the Center for Vein Restoration are happy to answer your questions, so schedule an appointment online today.