David Green, M.D., P.A.
4800 Montgomery Lane
Bethesda, MD 20814
Tel: 301 907-7250
Fax: 301 907-7234
© 1999-2002, D. Green, MD
Last Updated: June 20, 2002
The primary function of all veins in the body is to transport blood back to the lungs for re-oxygenation. From the lungs the blood travels to the heart and then is carried through the arteries for redistribution of oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. All of the arteries, veins, and capillaries constitute the circulatory system and the blood flow is what is referred to as the circulation.
Varicose Veins, Spider Veins and Dilated Capillaries are usually functionless, incompetent, distended blood vessels into which blood passively pools. They are not able to ensure the flow of blood back to the heart. By the time that they have appeared, normal functioning veins and capillaries, in the same vicinity, have taken over their function. The circulatory system does not need to form new channels to compensate for their functional absence.
It is estimated that 40% of women have at least some degree of varicose veins or spider veins. Men develop them also, but with less frequency. Although there are many reasons given for the appearance of these unsightly veins and capillaries, the most common cause is heredity. They can be inherited from the maternal or paternal side of the family. If someone is predisposed, there are additional factors that will enhance the development of varicose veins. The most common predisposing factor is pregnancy. Another is injury, such as a contusion or blow to the leg.
Once veins are treated, they should not return. Therefore, it is wise to have varicose veins and spider veins treated early. There is no need to wait until after having all of your anticipated pregnancies before beginning treatment. Of course, new varicose and spider veins can develop during subsequent pregnancies, but at least the previously treated ones would be gone.
What are Varicose Veins?
Varicose Veins are enlarged veins that are greater than 2 millimeters in width and sometimes exceed 2 centimeters. They may appear blue or green in color but often no color is seen. In this latter circumstance, they just appear as protruding, tortuous cords that course under the skin. Varicose veins are apparent when standing but often seem to disappear when lying down or with leg elevation.
A normal vein has one-way valves (known as venous valves) which ensures the unidirectional flow of blood. A varicose vein has incompetent valves that are not able to prevent blood from pooling within its channel. Without treatment, the continued pooling of blood causes these veins to become even more distended. The most effective non-surgical treatment is by Sclerotherapy.
The following are examples of varicose veins treated by Sclerotherapy:
What are Spider Veins?
Spider veins are defined as distended veins less than 2 millimeters in width. They are usually blue in color. While often flat, they may protrude, especially during standing. The most effective non-surgical treatment is by Sclerotherapy.
The following are examples of spider veins treated by Sclerotherapy:
What are Dilated Capillaries?
Dilated Capillaries (also referred to as broken capillaries, broken veins, or broken blood vessels) appear as red or pink thread-like lines, usually less than 0.2 millimeters in width. However, when a large number of capillaries are clustered together they may have the appearance of a red patch or a bruise that never disappears. Besides the legs, they are often seen on the face and nose.
Unlike the slightly larger spider veins, dilated capillaries respond poorly to Sclerotherapy. The safest and most effective treatment is with a vascular laser. Dr. Green uses the VersaPulse™ laser (Lumenis™, Santa Clara, CA). It is considered the safest and most effective vascular laser available to treat dilated capillaries.
The following are examples of dilated capillaries treated by Laser:
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