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Varicose Veins & Vein Disease

Did You Know…    vein disease
Varicose veins and spider veins aren’t just cosmetic problems. They may indicate vein disease, a more serious, progressive condition. An estimated 80 million Americans – more than 25% of the US population – suffer from some form of vein disease. Despite these numbers, vein disease is often under recognized and under treated. Left untreated, it can lead to a chronic, debilitating, and sometimes limb-threatening condition.


What Are the Symptoms of Vein Disease?

Patients with venous insufficiency may complain of:

Aching legs

Leg swelling

Leg Fatigue,

Itchy legs—especially around areas of visible varicose veins.

“Heavy” feeling legs

Restless legs.


Individuals with vein disease will often note that their symptoms are often worse at the end of the day. Relief is obtained with leg elevation, support stockings and pain medication. Because symptom onset is gradual, this disease may take decades to become apparent. All too often patients and physicians alike defer seeking care.
Additional risks of untreated venous insufficiency include deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, a potentially fatal event.


Why Causes Vein Disease to Occur?

In our bodies, arteries carry blood away from the heart, and veins carry blood back towards the heart.  In the legs, in order to carry blood back towards the heart, veins must over come the force of gravity.  To help do this, Vein Center St. Peteveins in the legs have a series of one-way valves that prevent the back flow of blood. When we walk, muscle contraction compresses the veins and helps to propel blood through the veins, out of the legs and towards the heart. When these valves begin to malfunction, gravity pulls blood backwards through the veins and leaky valves. These leaky or insufficient valves are the underlying mechanism of varicose vein disease.

Over time this unhealthy backflow of blood through the veins can result in pooling of blood in the legs that can lead to tissue damage, including swelling, dermatitis, and ulceration. As the blood is not flowing out of the leg, the varicosities may clot, causing phlebitis, or they may rupture and bleed.

Additional risks of untreated venous insufficiency include deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, a potentially fatal event.


What Factors Contribute to Vein Disease?

The primary contributing factor to vein disease is heredity. Vein insufficiency afflicts women with twice the frequency as men, and as many as 70% of women have some vein insufficiency by age 60. Hormonal factors play a significant role in aggravation of this disease. Puberty, menopause, birth control pills, estrogen/progesterone pills, can aggravate vein disease. Pregnancy can greatly exacerbate existing vein disease as the increased blood volume overwhelms the insufficient veins. Other predisposing factors include standing occupations, sudden weight loss or weight gain, leg injuries and aging.