What Causes Reticular Veins
Veins play an integral role in the vascular and circulatory systems. Veins return deoxygenated blood from various body parts back to the heart and lungs. Unlike the arteries, veins do not use pressure to move the blood. Instead, they utilize valves and muscles to push the blood effectively.
In lower body extremities such as the feet, veins actively work against gravity to drive the blood back to the heart and lungs. However, when specific muscles and valves fail, the blood may flow back to the lower regions and pool in certain places. This can lead to various vascular issues, or chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). Reticular veins often appear as an early sign and symptom of CVI.
What are reticular veins?
Reticular veins are visible veins that appear just below the top layer of your skin. However, these veins rarely protrude from the skin. In most cases, reticular veins are about 2 mm in diameter, and it may take some time before you can notice them.
Since all veins carry oxygen-deficient blood, reticular veins may appear blue or purple. While they can appear in any part of the body, reticular veins commonly form on the inner thighs. Other places where these veins may develop include the ankles, at the back of your knees, and the general backside of the leg.
As mentioned above, reticular veins are not always easily discernible as spider veins or varicose veins. Moreover, they may appear without any accompanying symptoms. In these cases, they only cause a cosmetic concern to the affected person. People seek treatment from reticular veins as they feel uncomfortable having their legs exposed while wearing short garments like skirts, bathing suits, and shorts.
Risk factors associated with reticular veins
Reticular veins stem from venous insufficiency and weakened valves. Other conditions that emanate from venous insufficiency include spider veins and varicose veins. Some of the risk factors that may increase your chance of developing reticular veins and other venous insufficiencies include:
- Occupation – If your line of work requires you to sit or stand for long, you could end up developing reticular veins. Some of the professions susceptible to the condition include teachers, factory workers, nurses, and programmers. People who sit for long are especially vulnerable to reticular vein formation at the back of the knees.
- Obesity – Being overweight or obese increases the pressure on your lower region, especially the legs. This extra pressure can affect blood flow and reduce vein efficiency, which leads to the development of reticular veins.
- Genetics and family history – If someone in your direct family line suffers from reticular veins or other vascular conditions, you, too, stand a greater chance of developing the disease.
- Aging – Reticular veins become more common as people age. The older you get, the more likely you are to develop vein deficiencies, including reticular veins.
- Pregnancy – Becoming pregnant can exert pressure on your veins and constrict blood flow to and from the limbs. This increased pressure can then lead to the formation of reticular veins.
What are the common symptoms of reticular veins?
Reticular veins don’t always present symptoms and may even go unnoticed. However, you may feel an itching and prickly sensation as they begin to form. Other notable symptoms include:
- A burning sensation
How dangerous are reticular veins?
Other than the symptoms mentioned above, which may or may not occur, reticular veins do not pose a significant health risk.
However, they do indicate blood flow problems in the veins. If you notice them, you should consult a vascular specialist. This will help rule out other severe vascular conditions like Varicose veins and Deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
If you are affected by reticular veins, listed below are tips to improve blood flow to your limbs:
- Elevating your legs when seated or lying down to improve blood flow from the legs to the heart and lungs.
- Refraining from crossing your legs when seated. This can reduce efficient blood flow to the limbs.
- Wearing compression socks to improve blood circulation and reduce lower leg swelling is especially helpful for those who stand for long periods of time.
- Exercising regularly improves blood flow and maintains a healthy weight.
While reticular veins are not typically harmful to your health and wellbeing, they can be an early warning sign of vascular issues. These issues may lead to the development of conditions such as varicose veins. If you’re uncomfortable with the appearance of the reticular veins or if they display any of the mentioned symptoms, you should see a vascular expert.
Can reticular veins be treated?
Various treatment options can be used to treat and manage reticular veins. Treatments may vary depending on condition severity. Some of the commonly used reticular vein treatments are:
Laser therapy treatment options like the Cutera Excel V laser system are commonly used to treat vascular conditions such as reticular veins. The Cutera Excel V laser was developed using feedback from leading vascular physicians around the world.
It comprises two-wavelength modes, 532 nm, and 1064 nm. It can be used on more than 20 different indications on all skin types. The Excel V system houses the broadest capabilities in treating both superficial and deep vascular conditions.
Why is laser therapy better than other reticular vein treatment options?
Most vascular specialists prefer to treat reticular veins with the Cutera Excel V laser system because it can be adjusted to match the skin condition.
Moreover, this laser treatment offers a variety of laser spot sizes. This increased precision allows for a highly-effective treatment in a short amount of time. These customization features set the Excel V system ahead of other treatment options because lengthy, complicated procedures can now be performed easily in a single session.
Other reticular veins treatment options are;
Sclerotherapy is a minimally invasive procedure. A vascular specialist will inject medication into the affected area. The medication blocks and collapses the lining of the problematic veins. An ultrasound is used to determine the best spot to inject the medication.
While this minimally invasive procedure is mainly used on varicose veins, it also treats reticular veins. Microphlebectomy surgically extracts the affected reticular veins with specialized medical equipment.
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What to Expect from Your Visit to Pedes
Your treatment will begin with an ultrasound examination of your veins, arteries, or both, in your legs to diagnose the presence and extent of the disease. Your test results will be immediately available to review with the doctor.
Once we review the results of your diagnostic tests, our physicians will help you develop a plan to provide you with the best treatment for your disease.
Depending on the extent of disease in your arteries or veins, our specialists may recommend minimally invasive intervention and/or prescribe medications to help your symptoms.
It is important to make sure that you return for every scheduled follow-up appointment to ensure that your disease is appropriately monitored. If you ever have any questions or concerns, please call or schedule a follow-up appointment with our staff.