Vein conditions like varicose veins are more common as people age. Most people have probably heard the terms varicose veins and spider veins, but there’s one more you might not be familiar with – reticular veins. Similar in many ways to the other kinds of veins, they are also treated in a similar fashion. Here’s some information on reticular veins, courtesy of Dr. Charles Dietzek of the Vein and Vascular Institute of New Jersey.
Unlike arteries, which depend on the force of the heart’s contractions to move blood, veins need some assistance. The first helper is muscle contractions in the large muscles of the legs, which help overcome the resistance from gravity to move blood back toward the heart. The second is small flaps of tissue called valves. The valves open and close according to whether the heart is pumping or in the resting pause between heartbeats. When closed, they prevent blood from flowing backwards. Over time, valves can fail or become incompetent, which allows blood to pool in the veins.
Varicose and Spider Veins
Both varicose and spider veins result from failure of the valves in the veins. The blood pools in the vein and causes it to become distended and twisted. The primary difference between the two is size – varicose veins are larger. Varicose veins usually occur in the legs and pelvis, while spider veins can occur anywhere, including the face. Spider veins usually look like tiny swirls or bursts of red, purple, blue or black. Heredity, obesity, being female and spending long hours standing at work can increase the risk of these conditions.
So What Exactly Are Reticular Veins?
Reticular veins are the “feeder” veins – smaller veins that run into larger veins. They too are a type of varicose vein – larger than spider veins but smaller than the classic varicose vein you see in the lower legs. They are less likely to become twisted and bulging than larger varicose veins and they are typically blue or greenish in color. Reticular veins are sometimes called “blue veins.” Although they can be found on the face, they are more common in the thighs, behind the knee or in the lower legs. They may look like a large cluster of big spider veins, especially if they occur behind the knee.
How Are Reticular Veins Treated?
Treatment of reticular veins depends primarily on their size and location. For smaller reticular veins, sclerotherapy is often the treatment of choice. An irritating solution is injected into the vein, which makes it swell, collapse and scar closed. Other possible treatment options include laser therapy, which uses a specific wavelength of light to heat and scar the vein. Deeper reticular veins may be treated with endovenous techniques, in which a small catheter is inserted into the vein and used to deliver laser or radiofrequency energy.
Whether you have varicose, spider or reticular veins, treatment is possible. Please contact us if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment.