Spider veins and varicose veins are common conditions that happen when the valves in your veins don’t work properly.
Arteries bring blood out into your body, and veins carry it back to your heart.
Veins have valves, or flaps, that open and close to allow blood to move forward. If the valves become weak or damaged, they can let blood flow backward, which can cause swelling, bulging, and other symptoms.
At the Vein Center at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute, our experts specialize in treating spider veins and varicose veins with the latest technology.
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Spider veins (telangiectasia) are a small type of varicose veins that are cosmetic in nature. They usually appear as red or blue webs close to the skin, but do not cause other physical symptoms.
Varicose veins are large, bulging veins that can cause cosmetic changes and physical symptoms in the legs.
Pelvic congestion is identifiable pain or heaviness in the pelvis or genital area that is caused by varicose veins in the pelvic region. Symptoms are usually chronic and can be worse just before or during menstruation.
Varicose veins can affect anyone, but they are more common in women, especially women who have had children. Other risk factors include:
Spider veins appear closer to the skin, usually on the face or legs, and tend to be red, blue, or purple. They may look like spider webs or tree branches.
Varicose veins are large, swollen, twisted veins that can also cause symptoms like:
Pelvic congestion can cause:
To diagnose spider or varicose veins, your doctor will begin by giving you a physical exam. In some cases, this exam may be all your doctor needs to diagnose your varicose veins.
Your doctor may also use duplex ultrasound to evaluate the size of the vein and how well they are functioning. A duplex ultrasound uses traditional ultrasound images combined with Doppler ultrasound-derived flow information.
The Vein Center at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute offers the latest treatments for spider and varicose veins. Your treatment will depend on the type, symptoms, and severity of your condition.
Compression stockings generally help symptoms from varicose veins and are often required as a first step in the treatment of venous disorders. A short period of compression is usually required after any venous treatment as well.
Anticoagulation (blood thinner) therapy is used to treat blood clots and deep vein thrombosis. The duration of treatment depends on the case.
Endovenous ablation is an outpatient procedure that uses a catheter and thermal (heat) energy to safely close the vein.
Venous recanalization is a catheter-based procedure that opens narrow or blocked veins using a balloon and stent.
Venous embolization is used to treat pelvic congestion and stops blood flow to problematic veins in the pelvis or abdomen. During the procedure, a surgeon inserts a catheter and uses a coil to safely block the flow of blood and close off the vein.
In severe cases, veins may be removed surgically.
Patients may experience the following side effects from these treatments.
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