What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are large bulging leg veins. Patients with varicose veins can experience pain, itchiness, and temperature sensitivity.
Associated problems such as leg fatigue, leg or foot swelling, darkening of the skin in the ankle or calf region, ankle ulcerations, nail changes, or superficial phlebitis often accompany varicose veins.
Spider and reticular veins
50% to 75% of all adult women are affected by spider or reticular veins. Spider veins are small branches of thin veins on the skin. Reticular veins are the slightly bigger veins under the skin which are like the trunks to the spider vein branches. Spider and reticular veins become a problem when they become painful.
What causes varicose veins?
Incompetent (“floppy”) venous valves result in blood pooling in the lower extremity rather than returning to the heart. The skin veins fill and enlarge with excess blood because of the back pressure.
Complications of venous disease
20% of patients with venous disease will develop leg ulcers. One million Americans suffer from chronic ulcers secondary to superficial venous disease, and 100,000 are disabled. Varicose veins can rupture and bleed.
Vulvar varicose veins
Vulvar varices are often not discussed or if mentioned some doctors don’t know who to refer to. Vulvar varices often develop after pregnancy and can worsen with each subsequent pregnancies. Patients are often embarrassed and don’t know if they can be treated.
Vulvar varices can be painful especially after standing. Some patients report itching, pain with intercourse, and hypersensitivity to pressure. For symptomatic patients, sclerotherapy with conscious sedation is the first line treatment.