Arteries and veins are the body's transportation system. They carry blood, with its vital cargo of oxygen and nutrients, to every part of the body. Arteries move blood from the heart to the tissues and veins bring it back to the heart.
The pumping of the heart helps push blood through the arteries. But on the return trip, this force is much weaker in the veins. In addition, blood flow in the veins of the lower body must move upwards, against gravity, pumped by the leg muscles.
To keep blood in the veins flowing in the right direction, veins have one-way valves–like flaps–that open to let blood flow upwards and then shut to keep blood from draining back downwards toward the feet.
Spider veins are smaller varicose veins that appear as small purple blue lines or "spiders" that are even closer to the skin's surface. Typically on the legs, they can also occur on the face.
Spider veins are noticeably red or blue, and often look like tree branches or spider webs. Though usually not dangerous, they can cause itching and burning.
MINIMALLY INVASIVE TECHNIQUES
- Endovenous Laser Therapy: Used for treatment of varicose veins and venous reflux. A laser guided into the main leaking vein heats and seals it shut, while the remainder of the bulging branch veins are removed via small incisions (ambulatory phlebectomy). Nearby healthy veins will take over normal blood flow.
- Sclerotherapy: A liquid chemical injected into the small veins seals them shut, stopping blood flow. Nearby healthy veins take over normal blood flow.
- Ligation, stripping and phlebectomy: Damaged veins are tied shut and removed through small incisions in the skin. Ligation and stripping is rarely needed anymore as the endovenous laser procedure is usually adequate to treat the veins. Branch veins that remain can later be removed thru small incisions called micro/stab phlebectomy.