Veins are blood vessels located along the body and are part of the circulatory system. Their role is to transport low-oxygenated blood back to the heart. But, in people with chronic vein disease, the veins do not return blood to the heart as usual. This problem happens because the vein walls become weak, bulging, and swollen. As a result, blood pools in the lower part of the body, leading to the formation of varicose veins. The disease primarily affects the legs, generating pain and swelling. If the condition progresses, more severe symptoms such as fatigue and difficulty walking may appear. Chronic vein disease can affect people of any age, but it is more common in adults.
Risk factors for chronic vein disease include obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, and a family history of blood circulation disorders. If the condition is not treated in time, it can quickly worsen, resulting in blood clots and pulmonary embolisms.
The progression of chronic venous disease is gradual; depending on the individual, the evolution can be slow or very rapid. Knowing the stages of this disease is critical for early detection and treatment. In the early stages, the disease may be asymptomatic. At this stage, the veins can still dilate and contract normally. The person may have some leg discomfort and heaviness, but the pain is still tolerable. However, as the disease progresses, the veins weaken and become inefficient at carrying blood. People begin to have swollen legs and suffer from severe pain. There are five stages of chronic vein disease:
1) Spider veins are characterized by their web-like appearance. They are small, colorful, and located on the skin’s surface, which usually occurs on the legs but can appear on other body parts. Spider veins can be painless but can cause tingling or burning. People often consider spider veins a simple cosmetic problem, but they can be an early sign of chronic vein disease.
2) Varicose veins are enlarged, twisted veins that protrude from the skin’s surface. Unlike spider veins, varicose veins can become very painful and noticeable. Varicose veins may be asymptomatic, or people may feel heaviness, burning, and itching in the affected area.
3) Leg swelling (edema) is a symptom that indicates that the disease is progressing. The swelling limits the movement of the legs, causing a deterioration in the person’s quality of life. At this stage, the person must visit a specialist as soon as possible to prevent the disease from progressing.
4) Skin discoloration. The color of the skin around the varicose veins or spider veins changes color. A reddish, itchy rash often accompanies the discoloration known as venous stasis dermatitis. Also, people may have changes in skin texture, such as dry, thin, or hard skin. Because malfunctioning veins cause these symptoms, the use of creams or lotions is not effective.
5) Venous ulcers are slow or non-healing wounds near visible varicose veins. At first, the wounds are small, but if left untreated, they can develop into severe ulcers. In this final stage, the skin becomes cracked and dry, causing the injuries to fester. Because there is no healing, the skin is exposed, and the person is vulnerable to severe skin and blood infections.
Vein diseases do not heal on their own, and there is no way to prevent them entirely. Yet, lifestyle changes and prompt treatment can prevent the disease from progressing. Our vein specialist located in Dallas, TX can help you at any stage of the disease. In our clinic, you will find less invasive treatments that will allow you to have a quick recovery. Contact us; we are here to help you!