Varicose veins and vein disease don’t happen overnight. They develop in stages, from mild spider veins to more serious venous ulcers. While the early stages of vein disease may be easy to ignore and worry about some other time, it is not a problem that will go away on its own. Here are the stages of varicose veins, how to recognize them, and how to treat them along the way.
Early Stages of Vein Disease – Spider Veins
Thin, light-colored spider veins (blood vessels) are often the first signs of vein disease. They are often reddish-purple in color and look like a tangled web of skinny, fine lines and are most common in women. While spider veins are very close to the skin, they do not feel bumpy or protrude.
Even before spider veins are visible, you could still be in the early stages of vein disease. Symptoms of early stage vein disease can include:
- Leg cramps
- Restless legs
While vein disease is most common past the age of 50, they can happen at any age. Since they are also hereditary, you may have other family members with the disease. It may be helpful at this stage to ask them when they began seeing symptoms.
At this point, it is mostly a cosmetic concern that can be treated with in-office procedures such as sclerotherapy, which uses an injected liquid to close off the vein, or non-invasive laser therapy to make the vein fade away.
At home, you can slow the progression of spider veins by:
- Wearing compression stockings
- Elevating your feet
- Exercising more
- Switching to a healthy diet.
Continue to monitor your symptoms, and always seek medical attention should the pain, burning, or swelling continue to progress.
Middle Stages of Vein Disease – Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are the large, raised, rope-like, darkened red-tinged veins that most commonly come to mind with vein disease. Varicose veins are weakened or damaged veins in which blood pools, causing them to bulge and darken. At this stage in vein disease, you may notice:
- Large, dark red/purple, bulging veins
- Increased swelling or discomfort in your legs
- Legs may seem heavier than usual
- Itching around the veins
Varicose veins can also cause additional edema (swelling). That’s because of the blood leaking from the broken veins and the body not reabsorbing it quickly. While keeping your legs elevated may help a little, it will not be enough to reverse the symptoms.
At this stage of vein disease, most people seek professional treatment before things turn more serious. Common procedures for varicose veins include endovenous ablation therapy, which uses heat and a catheter to close off the vein.
Keep an eye on your varicose veins as blood clots can form, leading to more serious complications.
Advanced Stages of Vein Disease – Venous Ulcers
The health risks of varicose veins can continue to increase if left untreated. Once vein disease reaches the advanced stages, the veins require extensive treatments including surgery.
Advanced vein disease is characterized by venous ulcers, wounds that will not heal on their own. Symptoms of venous ulcers include wounds with leg pain, a bad odor, fluid oozing from the wound, and random bleeding. At this stage of vein disease, not only do you risk infection from the open wounds, but you are at a higher risk of developing a blood clot in these veins. In fact, a study found that some people with more serious varicose veins are at a higher risk of developing deep vein thrombosis, which is a serious medical condition.
Don’t wait too long to treat your varicose veins. Schedule a free consultation today with one of our expert providers.