April 19


Can Peripheral Vascular Disease Be Treated?

By Dr. Jose Almeida

April 19, 2020

Can peripheral vein disease be treated? Yes, it can be treated. Peripheral vascular disease encompasses both diseases of the veins and arteries, but many vascular surgeons choose to specialize in venous disease, like Miami Vein Center, as venous disease is the most common type and it is also treatable. There are however risks with peripheral vascular disease. Learn more below.

"​​​Although venous disease is usually not dangerous, it can be if it is not treated appropriately." - Dr. Almeida 

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​Types of Venous Vascular Diseases

The types of venous vascular diseases are spider veins, varicose veins, venous insufficiency, and deep vein thrombosis with spider veins and varicose veins being among the most common.  

  • Spider veins are small discolorations on the skin surface that do not cause any pain or lead to any particular worsening of vascular disease. They are typically concerning due to their appearance. 

  • Varicose veins are large, tortuous veins on the legs that cause heaviness, swelling, and cramping in the veins. This can lead to deep vein thrombosis, spider veins, and venous insufficiency.  

  • Venous insufficiency is usually after years of veins malfunctioning, leading to excess pooling of blood, poor healing, and darkening of the skin from the iron in the blood that is sitting in the veins and leaks into the skin.

  • Deep vein thrombosis can occur from chronic pooling of the blood, as blood that is sitting tends to clot. It can lead to sudden onset of intense pain and swelling.

How Serious is Peripheral Vein Disease?

The types of venous disease can range from being mild to severe. Spider veins are considered mild disease and deep vein thrombosis is a severe disease. Although venous disease is usually not dangerous, it can be if it is not treated appropriately.

With deep vein thrombosis, a portion or all of the clot may dislodge and can travel directly to the lungs, leading to a pulmonary embolism or to the brain, causing a stroke. Strokes can be fatal or lead to permanent impairment in the worst cases. Pulmonary embolisms may also be fatal, particularly if they are not recognized promptly. 

Targeting the Underlying Cause for Treatment

Treating venous disease is targeted at determining the underlying cause of venous disease. Some of the most common causes of venous disease are:

  • genetics
  • carrying excess weight
  • sedentary lifestyle
  • pregnancy
  • being female
  • standing or sitting for long periods of time

Several of these cannot be modified, such as genetics and the female sex. Treatment should begin with changing some risks, such as reducing weight as much as possible, exercising regularly, especially with walking, and changing positions throughout the day.

Modifying these risks as much as possible may not halt venous disease from occurring, but can reduce the progression of illness. Other common treatments are elevating the legs at night, avoidance of heat, and use of compression stockings. Just like modifying risks, these will not completely prevent venous disease, but can reduce the progression. 

Video: May-Thurner Syndrome Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Guide

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Treatment For Venous Disease

Certain treatments are available for use on spider veins and varicose veins. These include:

These can be effective against spider veins and varicose veins. The downfall is that once specific veins are treated, other veins may experience the same type of disease, so over time other veins can be affected and may need treatment.   

If you have concerns regarding your venous disease, types of treatment, or ways to reduce progression, visit with a board certified vascular surgeon. Even though serious problems can be rare, they are more possible with venous disease that is left untreated. 

Dr. Jose Almeida

About the author

Dr. Jose Almeida, MD, FACS, RPVI, RVT is a veteran academic vascular surgeon who practices Endovascular Venous Surgery in Miami, FL. He is also a Diplomate of the American Board of Surgery in both Vascular Surgery and General Surgery.

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