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Varicose veins

What are spider veins and varicose veins?

Varicose veins are swollen and twisted veins in the legs and feet that have pooled blood. In normal veins, valves in the vein keep blood moving forward toward the heart. With varicose veins, however, the valves are failing, allowing blood to remain in the vein. The resulting pooling of blood is what causes the vein to enlarge.

Spider veins are a common, milder variation of varicose veins. They're smaller and are found closer to the skin's surface. They are often red or blue and resemble a spider's web. They occur on the legs, but can also be found on the face.

Are varicose veins a serious detriment to good health?

For many people, varicose veins are simply a cosmetic concern. For other people, varicose veins can cause fatigue, aching pain and discomfort. Sometimes varicose veins lead to more serious problems and signal a higher risk of other circulatory problems.

What are the symptoms?

Varicose vein symptoms may include dark purple or blue-colored veins that appear twisted and bulging. Aching or heavy feelings in the legs, burning, throbbing, muscle cramping or swelling in the lower legs and worsened pain after sitting or standing for a long time are common symptoms too.

How are varicose veins treated?

Because varicose veins are often the result of extensive time on your feet, treatment may be as simple as avoiding standing as much as possible and elevating your legs when resting or sleeping. Exercise to help minimize obesity and improve blood circulation in the legs. Try low-impact exercise, such as walking, swimming or biking at least 20 minutes each day of the week. Compression stockings may help, too. Worn all day, the stockings steadily squeeze your legs, helping veins and leg muscles move blood more efficiently. Your physician can recommend appropriate compression stockings.

What if these steps don't help?

When self-care options are not working, surgical treatment may be the next step. Thanks to innovative procedures now available for varicose veins, most cases can be treated on an outpatient basis, meaning patients go home the same day of the procedure. VNUS Closure is an innovative, minimally invasive procedure that treats varicose veins and their underlying cause with little or no pain. Patients who have this procedure can be back to daily activities the following day.

Dr. Jeanette Viney is a board-certified surgeon specializing in general and laparoscopic surgery, including VNUS Closure procedures for varicose veins. Her office is located in Sanford Health Q&R Clinic. For appointments, call (701) 323-5300 or request an appointment online.

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