Julio C Vasquez, MD

February 12th, 2016

Those unsightly, swollen, bulging and overly visible red and blue veins in the legs that make people uncomfortable about wearing shorts are not necessarily a cosmetic issue. Varicose veins and the less protruding spider veins are very common circulatory conditions. About 50 percent of people aged 50 and older have varicose veins.


Poor circulation is the underlying cause of both varicose veins and spider veins. More specifically, they result from a condition known as venous insufficiency. In healthy veins, blood flows continuously from the limbs back to the heart. One-way valves in the veins prevent blood from flowing backward. When valves become weak, compromised or obstructed, they no longer function as intended. This results in the backward flow of blood which then pools in the legs. Subsequently, leg veins become elongated, rope like, bulged and thickened.

While for some, varicose and spider veins are simply a cosmetic issue, for others, they can be associated with swelling, considerable discomfort, pain, throbbing, burning sensations, itching and even muscle cramps or fatigue. Symptoms may also include redness around the ankles and on the legs, skin discoloration or hyper-pigmentation, and thickening of the skin. In chronic case, the condition can progress to leg ulcers and infection, blood clots and other serious health consequences.

Age, is perhaps the most significant risk factor for varicose and spider veins. Gender is also a factor. Vein problems affect about 50-55 percent of American women and 40-45 percent of American men. Other risk factors, including a history of blood clots, a family history of varicose veins, excessive weight, high-heeled shoes, inactivity, injury to the leg, pregnancy and prolonged sitting or standing all can increase the risk of developing a circulatory problem.

Early diagnosis and treatment are central to preventing long-term complications. I will be hosting a seminar, Healthy Outcomes for Healthy Legs, on Thursday, February 25, 2016 at Portneuf Medical Center. The seminar is free and open to the public. Doors open at 6pm and the presentation will begin at 6:30. There will be a question and answer session following the presentation.

Registration is preferred; to register, call Portneuf at 208-239-1048. To learn more about upcoming events and seminars at PMC, like us on Facebook.

While millions of people are at risk for venous insufficiency, preventative methods for each patient may differ.

Although there is nothing an individual can do about heredity, other self-care measure may prevent them from getting worse or keeping new veins from forming. Making healthy lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy body weight, regular exercise, and avoiding sitting or standing in one place or position for long periods can help if you are one of the millions who are risk for venous insufficiency.

If your veins are causing any form of discomfort, it is important to consult a physician. For information about venous insufficiency or to schedule an appointment, call the Idaho Vein Center 208-239-1650.

Vascular Services