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St. Paul location:
Wednesday, 8 am to 4 pm
How leg veins work
The job of veins is to help return blood to your heart. Leg veins have one-way valves that allow blood to travel up towards the heart, against gravity.
There are two types of veins in your legs:
- Superficial veins are veins that can be seen under the skin
- Deep veins are veins that are deeper in the legs and are covered by muscles
Both types of veins work together to carry blood toward the heart.
About venous disease
Venous disease (also called "vein disease" or "chronic venous insufficiency") is a common medical condition that can cause varicose veins and spider veins. It occurs when valves in the leg veins become damaged, allowing blood to pool in the veins. Women have a higher incidence of vein disease than men.
Symptoms of venous disease can include:
- Varicose veins
- Spider veins
- Swelling in the legs
- Heavy or tired feeling legs
- Skin color changes in the legs (skin may look brown or red)
- Leg sores that are difficult to heal
Venous disease is most often seen in those who:
- Are women, especially during and after pregnancy
- Stand or sit for long periods of time
- Are overweight
- Have a history of blood clots in their leg veins
- Have a family history of the disease
Diagnosing vein problems
To help make a diagnosis, your doctor may order a Duplex ultrasound. This is a simple, non-invasive test that uses sound waves to create pictures of your veins and blood flow.
Treating vein problems
Our board-certified vascular specialists treat simple to advanced cases. While treatment options depend on the type and severity of the disease, they all destroy or remove problem veins. This allows the blood to reroute through healthy veins. Find out more about treatments for varicose veins and spider veins.
If veins are causing pain or other complications, many insurance companies will cover treatment. Because insurance carriers provide different levels of coverage, it's important to check with your insurance prior to treatment.
For most people, venous disease can not be prevented because it is hereditary. However, there are ways you can care for yourself that may reduce your risk.
Along with the treatment provided by your doctor, there are additional steps you can take to care for yourself and your veins. Check with your doctor to determine what is best for your situation.
Wear compression stockings
Elastic compression stockings may be prescribed by your doctor to help treat vein problems. Compression stockings are snug-fitting around the ankle, making it less likely for blood to pool in your legs.
Maintain a healthy weight
If you are overweight, extra pressure is put on your veins.
Exercise helps the blood flow from your legs back to your heart.
Elevate your legs
Taking time to elevate your legs can help prevent blood from pooling in the leg veins. This reduces swelling and pressure in the legs.
Don't stand or sit for long periods of time
Be sure to move around to promote blood flow.