Varicose veins are a common problem in people over the age 40, affecting approximately 40% of the US population. Although only a portion of patients with varicose veins will eventually need treatment, understanding the spectrum of venous reflux can be important if you notice changes in your leg veins.
Changes due to venous reflux may include any or all of the following:
- Spider veins (tiny blue, star-shaped groups)
- Varicose veins (larger, redundant bulging veins)
- Burning pain
- Ankle swelling
- Skin discoloration
- Wound formation
These signs and symptoms do not always occur in a linear fashion. Somepeople may experience symptoms with minimal visible changes, while others may have no symptoms and obvious vein changes. If you have questions about your leg veins, an interventional radiologist can help. People often assume that vein treatment is purely cosmetic and not covered by insurance carriers. While this may be true in some cases, visible vein changes may be an early sign of underlying venous insufficiency, and should be evaluated by a vein specialist prior to treatment. You may have additional subtle signs and symptoms that may warrant a Doppler Ultrasound evaluation to look for reflux. If reflux is found, the radiologist can advise you about treatment options to alleviate the symptoms. In many cases, incompetent veins can be closed or removed. Modern minimally invasive vein treatments are much less painful and disruptive than prior treatments, and are accomplished in an outpatient setting with minimal activity restrictions.
If large vessel reflux is not the underlying cause of your vein complaints, and you would like to improve the appearance of your legs, cosmetic vein treatments may be an option. Spider veins and other small vein conditions may be treated in various ways, often centering on injection treatments. It is important to understand whether your spider veins can be easily treated and what results you can expect from one or more treatments. For these reasons, consulting with one of our interventional radiologists specializing in vein therapy can help you learn about various treatments available. He can also advise as to whether your vein problem is likely to be considered cosmetic or a sign of more serious underlying venous pathology.
At Wake Radiology Interventional Services, there are several radiologists who treat a broad spectrum of venous problems and can advise you. Wake Radiology does offer cosmetic vein screening visits, and can also help evaluate symptoms which may overlap with other painful conditions in the legs such as arterial disease, arthritis and other illness.