Some people living in Chicago and the Chicagoland Suburbs who happen to suffer from varicose and spider veins take comfort in the fact that for 8-9 months out of the year it’s too cold to wear shorts…and therefore they can avoid wearing shorts along with everyone else around them.
This just illustrates one of the more significant effects of venous disease: lifestyle limitations. Not to discount the fact that untreated disease can lead to things like blood clots and skin ulcers…but sometimes the emotional discomfort of having unsightly legs can be just as limiting and profound as the physical discomfort. Why should a completely fixable problem keep people from engaging in activities that they would otherwise love to do?! I want you to feel happy about parading your legs around town! They’re literally like walking billboards for Rosen Vein Care…show ’em off!
That’s why I am on a mission to educate. As the Greek philosopher Epictetus said, “Only the educated are free”. I want to help free people from such limitations. Therefore I’m using the first postings of my blog to get you up to speed on the current understanding of venous disease. Once you understand the underlying problem and the state-of-the-art treatment options we provide at Rosen Vein Care, you’ll be better equipped to make a decision, to make a significant change.
Enough preamble…let’s get down to business: How and What Leg Veins Do
Arteries carry blood Away from the heart. The heart’s job is to keep on pumping and get the nutrient-rich blood to all the areas of the body. Arteries get all the press. “Hypertension” this….”Coronary artery disease” that…yadda-yadda “aortic dissection”. Most people, physicians included, rarely stop to think about how the body returns the blood back to the heart through the veins. The blood from the head is easy to get a handle on…gravity just drains it downward toward the heart. Fair enough. What about the legs? It’s not as if there is another heart in your lower extremities that pushes the blood upward against gravity.
Well, actually there is! When the muscles in your calf contract, they squeeze the veins and propel the blood inside upward. The blood passes up through one-way valves which typically prevent blood from leaking back downward under the effect of gravity. Think of it like the sump pump in your basement. Any blood that would otherwise pool up gets sent back toward the heart via a network of veins containing such valves.
10% of the blood gets routed through superficial veins (Great and Small Saphenous Veins are the major players); the rest gets routed through deep veins.
When all goes well, blood is efficiently kept moving through the legs and the veins remain a relatively low pressure system. Think of it like the few hours a year that there isn’t construction on the Tollways around Chicago. But…just like the traffic in the Chicagoland area…things don’t always run so smoothly.
Stay tuned to the next posting where we’ll talk about the “Pathophysiology of Lower Extremity Veins”…fancy-shmancy doctor talk for “How things go terribly wrong”.
Meanwhile, if you are interested in learning more about what specifically can be done for your varicose and spider veins, schedule your initial consultation by calling 847-272-8346. We can usually get patients in for their initial consultation within the next few business days.
My goal is for you to feel free and comfortable to show off your legs during those precious days around Chicago that are warm enough to do so! Here’s hoping for an early Spring for all of us!
See you soon!