The vast majority of individuals who have varicose or spider veins don't experience any associated problems and, in these cases, the bluish streaks or web-like formations are merely aesthetic issues. However, for others, bulging veins can represent a serious health problem.
According to the Mayo Clinic, about 20 to 25 percent of Americans experience varicose veins, and about 6 percent have conditions that may require medical attention, such as venous disease, skin changes or ulcerations.
"Evaluation of varicose veins with ultrasound is an easy and accurate way to assess the need for treatment. New, minimally invasive therapy is available today that is effective and is performed as outpatient treatment," said the Mayo Clinic's Peter Gloviczki, M.D.
Gloviczki was a co-developer for the Society for Vascular Surgery and American Venous Forums' national guidelines on varicose vein treatment.
Problematic varicose veins may itch, burn or ache, and typically appear in the legs, ankles and feet. Individuals who are pregnant, overweight or sedentary are more likely to develop varicose veins. As such, exercise and weight loss may help alleviate problems stemming from bulging veins.
Varicose veins are typically caused by improper blood flow in the legs, which may be corrected to an extent by wearing compression stockings. Other treatment options include laser vein removal, but indiviudals should be sure they're good candidates for the treatment.
"New therapy with radiofrequency or laser is safe and effective, but such procedures should be done after careful evaluation, in selected patients only," said Gloviczki.
Signs that varicose veins are more than just an unsightly bother include swollen legs, changes in the skin texture or color and bleeding from the veins. People who experience these symptoms should seek medical attention in order to rule out a blood clot or ulcer.
If a healthcare provider determines that you're a viable candidate for laser vein removal, you may be able to look forward to a summer where you're free to bare your legs without embarrassment, because the laser treatment has been shown time and again to be safe and effective.
Laser vein removal of deep veins sometimes entails a small catheter being inserted into the vein, where it heats the vein from the inside, thereby closing it off. Usually, this requires local anesthesia and is performed as an outpatient procedure.