varicose veins bleedingVaricose veins are one of the most common venous issues that people can suffer from. Affecting up to a third of all adults, they can cause enough problems to warrant being able to tell them apart from veins that happen to be more visible under your skin. And it’s not just about how they look. How they function is also an important consideration.

Varicose Vein Characteristics

The job of your veins is to carry oxygen-rich blood from around the body, back up to the heart. However, when the vein valves or vein walls become damaged, this can lead to Chronic Venous Insufficiency or CVI. This condition is marked by the blood being unable to sufficiently flow.

Instead, blood begins to reflux or pool. This can either lead to the twisted, enlarged vessels you know as varicose veins or the smaller web-like veins, known as spider veins.

Telling the Difference Between Normal Veins and Varicose Veins

In order to tell the difference between varicose veins and normal veins, you will need to understand how the two differ in function. For instance, healthy veins bring red oxygenated blood from the heart down into the legs and blue deoxygenated blood back up to the heart again. Normal veins aren’t usually visible except when you’re exercising. With physical exertion, veins pump blood to the surface of the skin to keep you cool. However, even when they are visible, they appear below the surface and do not have raised edges.

By contrast, varicose veins tend to appear as raised or even bulging veins, most often a green or purple color. This is because the blue blood mixes with the yellow of the skin pigment in the light. They can also appear twisted and in groups.

In addition, varicose veins can also cause a range of symptoms. Usually, if the affected areas become itchy, swollen, or cause a burning sensation, particularly at the end of the day, you are most likely dealing with varicose veins.

When to Seek Medical Attention for Varicose Veins

If you suspect that you have a varicose vein problem, you will want to get them checked out to be sure they are taken care of early. Varicose veins can sometimes be masked by other veins that are closer to the skin. Seeing a vein expert like Dr. Morse at Grand Junction Vein Center is the best way to check all your veins. He can do a full image scan of your legs or other affected areas using ultrasound technology to observe even the deepest veins.

spider veins under the skin#1 What Spider Veins Are

Spider veins, most often in the legs, are vessels visible just under the skin up to 1 mm in size. They are commonly known as thread veins or broken veins. The medical term for spider veins is telangiectasia.

#2 What Spider Veins Look Like

Spider veins appear bluish or purple in snakelike patterns. They are frequently found on the outer thigh, inner calf, and around the ankle, but can occur anywhere on the leg.

#3 Causes of Spider Veins

Many people get spider veins because they sit or stand for long periods most days of the week. These veins also become more common with age and during pregnancy. Spider veins can also be caused by sunlight, hormonal changes, or an injury.

#4 When Spider Veins Are a Problem

For most people, just the appearance of the spider veins is the problem. Having spider veins can cause embarrassment, poor self-esteem and lack of confidence. Those who have spider veins need no other reason than that to seek help. Symptoms such as leg ache, throbbing and swelling may also cause concern and motivate one to consider treatment. Spider veins around the ankle should always be taken seriously, as they may indicate a major problem with the function of veins below the skin. This condition, called “Corona Phlebectatica,” is also known as ankle flare. If you have lots of spider veins around your ankles, you should be evaluated as soon as possible.

#5 How Spider Veins Can Be Treated

Patients without symptoms, ankle flare, or varicose veins can be often be treated by Micro-injections (Microsclerotherapy). Microsclerotherapy involves a very delicate injection procedure in which a special prescription medicine, called a sclerosant, is inserted into the vein. As such, it requires skill and accuracy. This form of sclerotherapy works by removing the delicate lining of the spider veins. After the procedure, you will observe the beginning of a healing process causing the vein to fade and disperse.

varicose veins bleedingInvasive varicose vein surgery is usually necessary to repair severely damaged veins. But how do you know if your varicose veins have progressed that far?

Fortunately, there are many types of varicose vein surgery. These types range from minimally invasive to invasive, which most vein doctors will recommend first. They may even recommend conservative steps like wearing compression stockings or losing weight before even considering minimally invasive or invasive surgical treatment procedures.

What’s the Difference Between Invasive and Minimally Invasive Vein Surgery?

A minimally invasive varicose vein surgery is typically an outpatient procedure performed under a small amount of local anesthetics. It usually involves making small incisions to allow access to the damaged vein.  Doctors will then use the incision to insert a small catheter. This is used to give access to a laser, radiowave, foam, or sclerosant solution being used to treat the vein.

Minimally invasive vein procedures are usually completed in under an hour. They often only require a small bandage over the incision area.

On the other end of the spectrum is invasive varicose vein surgery. This type of procedure is much more intense and is used to completely remove a damaged vein from the body.   General anesthesia is often required and recovery time is substantially longer. Roughly 10% of severe varicose vein cases result in invasive vein surgeries.

That is why early detection and treatment are so important.

If you have symptoms of varicose veins such as enlarged veins that are bluish or purplish in color, you may want to consider seeing a vein specialist.

Other signs and symptoms of varicose veins include:

Itchiness around the affected site
Feeling of heaviness on the legs
A throbbing sensation on the lower extremities
Worsening pain after sitting or standing for a long time

Call Grand Junction Vein Center at 970-242-VEIN (8346) today to set up an appointment if you are concerned about your veins. You may be avoiding a more serious condition down the road.

The six chronic vein insufficiency risk factors

Many different factors can impact your vein health. Here are the things that can greatly increase the risk of chronic venous insufficiency (CVI):

  • Age: Your veins inevitability weaken as you get older. It’s just a fact of life. In relation CVI, your risk increases every year past the age of 50.
  • Obesity: Weight problems can lead to many different health issues, not just those affecting the vascular system. The more extra weight you carry, the more strain is placed on the veins. This can cause them to malfunction. High levels of fat and sugar in the diet contribute to the formation of plaque and clots in the veins.
  • Smoking habit: Ever since tobacco companies were finally held accountable for health risks associated with smoking, more evidence has been uncovered of the wide-ranging negative effects it can have on your health. Not only can it cause potentially fatal respiratory conditions like lung cancer and COPD, but it can also lead to CVI and other vein issues. Smoking weakens your vein walls, impairing blood-flow and vein function.
  • Family History: Having a genetic predisposition means the chances of CVI developing is much higher. That means ff your relatives have had issues with vein problems, you’re much more likely to develop them yourself.
  • Hormonal fluctuations: Hormonal changes like menopause, pregnancy, and HRT, cause your vein walls to become increasingly strained and weakened. As you have seen, this sometimes leads to CVI, varicose veins, and other cardiovascular issues.
  • Poor lifestyle choices: Lack of exercise, poor fitness or simply sitting or standing still regularly can have a deleterious effect on your health. That is because your cardiovascular system relies on regular physical activity to stay healthy and efficient. These choices can also cause weight gain, which continues the spiral to poor health.

How you can manage chronic venous insufficiency

No matter if you have CVI or not, managing and reducing any risk factors takes care of your vein health in the short and long term.

If you have already been diagnosed with CVI, or if you have one or more of the risk factors listed above, you should consider major changes to your life. Also, if you suffer from any of the following symptoms in your legs, you should consider making an appointment with our vein specialist.

  • Dry or itchy skin in the legs
  • Open sores that don’t heal properly
  • Redness or hard and shiny surfaces on the skin
  • Weeping or oozing fluid from the skin

Chronic Venous Insufficiency itself doesn’t have a simple cure, but with some simple lifestyle changes you can at the least minimize your risk of it worsening or developing in the first place, and at best manage any current symptoms.


Grand Junction Vein Center

2373 G Road #280
Grand Junction, Colorado. 81505
On the second floor of the Canyonview Medical Plaza
Tel: 970-242-VEIN (8346)