Varicose Veins and Spider Veins

  • Medical Author:
    Gary W. Cole, MD, FAAD

    Dr. Cole is board certified in dermatology. He obtained his BA degree in bacteriology, his MA degree in microbiology, and his MD at the University of California, Los Angeles. He trained in dermatology at the University of Oregon, where he completed his residency.

  • Medical Author: Siamak N. Nabili, MD, MPH
    Siamak N. Nabili, MD, MPH

    Dr. Nabili received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), majoring in chemistry and biochemistry. He then completed his graduate degree at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). His graduate training included a specialized fellowship in public health where his research focused on environmental health and health-care delivery and management.

  • Medical Editor: Steven Doerr, MD
    Steven Doerr, MD

    Steven Doerr, MD

    Steven Doerr, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Doerr received his undergraduate degree in Spanish from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He graduated with his Medical Degree from the University Of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, Colorado in 1998 and completed his residency training in Emergency Medicine from Denver Health Medical Center in Denver, Colorado in 2002, where he also served as Chief Resident.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Spider and Varicose Veins Slideshow Pictures

Quick GuideSpider and Varicose Veins Pictures Slideshow: Causes, Before-and-After Treatment Images

Spider and Varicose Veins Pictures Slideshow: Causes, Before-and-After Treatment Images

What are varicose vein symptoms?

Many people with varicose veins do not have any physical symptoms. They may, however, have concerns over the cosmetic appearance of the varicose veins.

Symptoms of varicose veins may include:

Some people may complain of a dull ache and pressure sensation from varicose veins.

Some less common, but more severe symptoms of varicose veins may include bleeding, thrombophlebitis (formation of a blood clot within the varicose vein), skin ulceration and a weeping oozing dermatitis or stasis dermatitis. In long standing venous disease, the skin may become fibrotic and scarred, forming an inverted "hourglass" appearance. These complications of varicose veins should be evaluated by a doctor promptly.

How are varicose veins evaluated (diagnosed)?

Evaluation of varicose veins includes a thorough general physical examination by a doctor. This will include asking about any family history of varicose veins, the duration and presence of any symptoms, and any worsening or expansion of the varicose veins. The individual's height, weight, and other medical conditions need to be noted as well.

In addition, general inspection and palpation (feeling the veins) and evaluation for the presence of any bleeding or ulceration also is typically performed.

Standing up for about 5 to 10 minutes can make the veins more visible, and this may further aid the doctor in assessing the extent of the varicose veins.

Can ultrasound be used to evaluate varicose veins?

Duplex ultrasound visualization is very useful in evaluating of the venous system. Ultrasound can help in delineating the presence of any defective veins and pinpoint those that require intervention. Doppler ultrasound (a device which can detect and measure blood flow) may also provide additional information such as the competency of and flow through the valves in the perforating and the deeper veins. This information is especially necessary if surgery or other procedures are being considered.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/15/2014
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