Vein disease or venous disease describes a variety of conditions affecting the veins that can range from minor to extremely serious. Minor conditions like spider veins may cause only cosmetic problems, while serious conditions like deep vein thrombosis can be life-threatening.
What is CEAP?
CEAP is a classification system doctors use to describe a patient’s vein disease. The acronym stands for the following:
- C = Clinical or the patient’s symptoms and the appearance of their veins
- E = Etiology or cause of their disease
- A = Anatomy or the veins involved in the disease
- P = Pathophysiology or any abnormalities in blood flow
Doctors further divide a patient’s symptoms into seven categories ranging from C0 or no sign of vein disease to C6 in which the patient has symptoms of severe vein disease like an ulcer that won’t heal.
Symptoms of vein disease
Spider veins or telangiectasia are among the mildest symptoms of vein disease. They are small veins near the surface of the skin that form a web-like pattern.
Varicose veins are also usually more unattractive than dangerous. The affected veins are enlarged and ropy-looking, and they are very visible through the patient’s skin. While they are generally harmless, they can cause discomfort. A susceptibility to varicose veins runs in some families. Pregnancy, obesity, and standing for a long time can all increase the chances of developing varicose veins.
Heavy and dull aches in the legs are among the more common symptoms of vein disease. This symptom tends to worsen at night or if the patient has been standing for a long time.
Lymphedema or swelling in the lower legs is another common symptom of vein disease. It indicates that the veins aren’t working properly and that fluid is thus accumulating within the legs. If untreated, lymphedema can lead to other symptoms like discoloration or pain. Discolored skin is a sign of serious vein disease, for it indicates poor circulation and increased pressure inside the vein’s walls.
Ulcers or sores around the ankles are among the more serious symptoms of vein disease. They indicate both poor circulation and an abnormal accumulation of fluid.
Other symptoms of vein disease can include itchy red skin and restless leg syndrome.
How is vein disease treated?
There are many treatments for vein disease, and the doctor will select one based on the patient’s symptoms and the severity of their disease. For example, if the patient has spider veins, the doctor will often perform sclerotherapy to reduce or eradicate the spider veins. They will also perform an ultrasound exam to check for any serious underlying problems.
The surgeon may choose to perform a phlebectomy if the patient has large varicose veins. A phlebectomy is a minimally-invasive procedure that can be done in the doctor’s office. The surgeon will administer a local anesthetic beforehand to keep the patient comfortable. They will then make a small incision and use a phlebectomy hook, which resembles a crochet hook, to remove the defective vein. The procedure usually takes less than an hour. Afterwards, the surgeon will have the patient wear a compression stocking to help healing.