Vein disease can affect individuals differently. One person may experience only mild symptoms with few veins, while another may experience more substantial symptoms such as aching, ropey veins, swelling and burning in the legs. The only common factor is that without treatment, vein disease will worsen over time.
Class 1 — “Spider Veins”
Commonly called spider veins, telangiectasia are small, dilated blood vessels and capillaries. This condition occurs in approximately 40% of women, and 18% of men. More than half of the population presents symptoms of this vein disease.
Class 2 – “Varicose Veins”
This is the category for dilated or large superficial veins. More than 75% of people with varicose veins experience symptoms that interfere with their life and daily activities. People often think of this stage when they think of any vein disease.
Class 3 – “Leg Edema”
This is a more advance type of vein disease that causes swelling of the legs. It is caused by the back flow of blood in the venous system interfering with the body’s ability to reabsorb fluid, which leads to swelling. The swelling can resolve when the legs are elevated.
Class 4 – “Skin Changes”
Venous congestion over time can lead to changes in the skin’s appearance, including becoming thinner and discolored to reddish brown or whitish. The skin is also easily injured and heals slowly. This condition is often mistaken for cellulitis, dermatitis, or skin disorders.
Class 5-6 — “Leg Ulcers”
This is most advance form of superficial vein disease. These ulcers occur when venous congestion interferes with the ability of the blood to provide the skin’s nutritional needs. Skin injuries will heal very slowly. If this goes untreated, approximately 20% of these leg ulcers can remain unhealed for two years.
A class 5 vein classification is for legs that have healed ulcers, while a Class 6 categorizes legs with active or unhealed ulcers.
When diagnosing varicose veins, an examination of the legs is generally all that is required. The exam may include a noninvasive machine that will detect blood flowing the wrong way. Generally, there is no need for blood tests or X-rays.
If varicose veins are identified, an ultrasound machine can make a more detailed assessment to ensure that the appropriate treatment can be planned.