Understanding Superficial Venous Reflux

Your legs are made up of a network of veins. Healthy leg veins contain valves that open and close to assist the return of blood back to the heart. Venous reflux disease develops when the valves that keep blood flowing out of the legs and back to the heart become damaged or diseased. This can cause blood to pool in your legs and lead to symptoms such as pain, swelling, swollen limbs, leg heaviness and fatigue, skin changes and skin ulcers, and varicose veins.

The function of veins is to bring deoxygenated blood back to the heart. Because the veins are a low pressure system, they contain one-way valves to prevent the blood from flowing backwards as it travels back to the heart. If the one-way valve becomes weak, some of the blood can leak back into the vein, causing the veins to become congested or clogged. This congestion will cause the vein to abnormally enlarge, which in turn leads to either varicose veins or spider veins.

Varicose Veins

12_Before_SB_inpageFor many patients, an office evaluation by a vein specialist is all that is needed to determine the extent of the varicose and spider vein, and to develop an initial treatment plan. In other patients, however, when is evidence that some of the larger superficial veins might be incompetent and contributing to the visible varicose veins. When this is suspected a detailed examination using a sophisticated Duplex Doppler ultrasound scanner is done to ‘map’ the blood flow and characterize the vessels. This non invasive test performed in the office setting allows the treating physician to better characterize the extent of the problem and develop a treatment plan that will minimize the chance of recurrence and maximize the potential to obtain the best results.

Spider & Reticular Veins

What spider veins look like

Spider and reticular veins are variants of varicose veins, they are smaller, red or blue in color, and are closer to the surface of the skin than varicose veins. They can look like a tree branch or spider web with their short jagged branches. Spider veins are also known as telangectasias and are most commonly found on the legs and the face, and come in a variety of sizes.