Top 5 Stages Of Vein Disease To Take Seriously

Did you know, that millions of people suffer from vein disease in the United States?

  • With less than 1% of people getting treatment, undiagnosed vein disease may lead to more serious health complications

 

Stages Of Leg Vein Disease

How Do You Know If You Have Vein Disease?

If you have vein disease it is common to experience some of these symptoms –

  • Heavy Legs
  • Cramping / Achy Legs
  • Spider Veins
  • Varicose Veins
  • Fatigue
  • Skin Discoloration / Skin Changes
  • Leg Swelling
  • Restless Legs
  • Blood Clots
  • Leg Ulcers

Educating yourself and becoming knowledgeable about chronic venous disease is the first step in protecting your health.

This article will introduce you to the 5 stages of vein disease that you should be familiar with today.

Stage One: Spider Veins

The presence of Spider or Reticular veins are typically the first signs of venous disease.

What Do Spider Veins Look Like?

How To Treat Spider Veins

Spider veins are smaller, dilated veins and capillaries that appear just underneath the surface of the skin. They can appear as tiny threads or streaks and may cluster with other veins, almost like branches of a tree.

What Do Reticular Veins Look Like?

Reticular veins appear as red or blue spiderwebs on the surface of the skin. They are smaller than varicose veins and do not protrude above the skin like varicose veins. Often, reticular veins are commonly found on the inner and back of the thigh, and will occasionally appear on the face.

spider veins vs reticular veins

At times, reticular veins will feed into spider veins, which is why they are also known as feeder veins. If this occurs, spider veins are provided with an excess source of blood. When this happens, removal of the reticular veins will help to eliminate associated spider veins.

What Causes Spider and Reticular Veins?

Often, weakened or damaged valves in the vein are the cause of reticular veins.

The following factors may increase your chances of developing spider and reticular veins:

  • Family history
  • Prolonged standing or sitting
  • Pregnancy or menopause
  • Hormone changes or imbalances
  • Obesity

More often than not, spider and reticular veins are treated as a cosmetic issue and are not evaluated for thorough diagnosis and proper treatment.

Stage Two: Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are larger and more dilated veins that appear underneath the surface of the skin as twisted, enlarged veins. It is during Stage Two when individuals become bothered by the appearance and symptoms of vein disease.

Bulging Veins

Often, however, many people view spider veins and varicose veins as a cosmetic concern. For others, however, varicose veins can cause pain, aching and discomfort.

Knowing the signs and symptoms can help you determine whether you need to seek medical evaluation before your vein disease worsens.

Symptoms of Varicose Veins

Causes of Varicose Veins

Weak and damaged valves lead to varicose veins. Inside the veins of your lower legs, muscles contract and act as pumps, helping blood flow back to your heart. When veins and valves are weakened, blood flows back into your veins where it pools and causes the veins to stretch.

Risk Factors
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Pregnancy
  • Family History
  • Obesity
  • Standing or sitting for prolonged periods

Stage Three: Swelling

Stage three marks more advanced vein disease as swelling of the legs indicates a backflow in the venous system’s ability to reabsorb and circulate fluid.

What Causes Swelling Legs

Varicose veins allow blood to pool in the veins of your legs, a hallmark of chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) disease, causing swelling in the legs and ankles.

Symptoms Accompanying Leg Swelling/Inflammation:

  • Tightness in calves or ankles
  • Itchy legs
  • Tenderness or numbness near varicose veins
  • Disclosed, leathery like skin near varicose veins
  • Pain when walking
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Muscle spasms
  • Leg ulcers

Many of the symptoms above are some of the first signs of an advancing case of CVI. Should you be experiencing varicose veins with swelling and or/pain, it is imperative that you seek out a medical consultation the problem becomes worse.

Causes of Leg and Ankle Swelling:

  • Lack of exercise
  • Diet
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Chronic Venous Insufficiency Disease
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Smoking

Stage Four: Skin Discoloration (Lipodermatosclerosis)

Stage Four of vein disease begins to impact the appearance of your skin as skin becomes thinner and discoloration is visible. It is important to note, at this advancing stage of vein disease, your skin is more at risk for injury and will take longer to heal.

Symptoms of Skin Discoloration

  • Skin takes on a brown, leathery texture
  • Skin thickening and/or hardening around varicose veins
  • Pain and/or swelling in legs and ankles
  • Leg ulcers
  • Legs tapering above the ankles

Causes of Skin Discoloration

  • Chronic Venous Insufficiency
  • Heart Disease
  • Hormonal changes
  • Standing or sitting for prolonged periods
  • Poor diet
  • Obesity

Unfortunately, at this stage of vein disease, you will need a medical professional to help diagnose and develop the appropriate treatment plan.

Stage Five: Ulcers and Open Wounds

Stage five is the most advanced stage of vein disease and is most often referred to as the “leg ulcer” stage.

At this stage, venous congestion prevents blood flow and nutrition to the skin, resulting in venous ulcers on the surface of the skin.

Categories of Skin Ulcers

  • Venous Stasis
  • Diabetic Ulcers
  • Arterial Ulcers

Venous Stasis ulcers make up 80% to 90% of leg ulcers, most going untreated. Ulcer form on the outside of the skin as a result of excess pressure from inside your veins. Doctors believe that the increased pressure cuts off blood flow to capillaries, causing a build-up of white blood cells.

When there is a presence of excess white blood cells, the blood lacks oxygen and nutrition, resulting in ulcers on the outside of the skin.

Symptoms of Leg Ulcers

  • Open and painful sores on legs and ankles
  • Yellow/green leaking fluid from sores
  • Leg and/or ankle swelling
  • Burning and itching legs
  • Aching or painful legs
  • Skin discoloration
  • Skin tightening around ankles

Causes of Leg Ulcers

  • Chronic Venous Insufficiency disease (CVI)
  • Varicose veins
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Heart failure
  • Peripheral vascular disease
  • Pregnancy
  • Obesity

Many of the listed symptoms and complications are hereditary. Should you notice any of these symptoms and have a known family history of chronic venous insufficiency, you may be at risk of developing CVI.

Concluding Thoughts

Many do not realize that spider veins and varicose veins are the very first symptoms signaling a health condition far beyond a cosmetic nuisance.

Educating yourself on the early stages of venous disease can empower you to take the steps necessary to prevent a progressive condition from becoming much more severe and dangerous to your overall health.

Luckily, many of these complications are not life-threatening, and they are incredibly easy to treat. Take the first step in protecting your health and future by contacting our clinic today!

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