Skin Discoloration: How are the Veins Involved?

istock 878517364People with symptoms of varicose veins sometimes notice areas of discoloration on the leg, ankle, or foot. These areas of discoloration may be mistaken for a dermatologic issue. Vein specialists think otherwise. They know that skin discoloration in the lower extremities may be yet another symptom of vein disease. Here, we discuss how the veins may be involved in skin discoloration and how to address this problem should it occur. 

How Does Vein Disease Cause Skin Discoloration?

Veins are the vessels that carry blood back to the heart (arteries carry blood from the heart to the body). The veins have valves to keep blood moving in the right direction. Various factors, including age and obesity, can cause these valves to weaken. Weak valves fail to progress the forward-movement of blood toward the heart. This can result in swelling and pain in the affected vein. Due to weakness, the vein may also leak blood to surrounding tissues. The skin may then become dry, itchy, and irritated. The accumulation of red blood cells in the skin can also cause brown or purple discoloration. Vein specialists refer to this as venous stasis dermatitis. 

Addressing Skin Discoloration Caused by Venous Insufficiency

Venous stasis dermatitis is not solely a dermatologic condition. The origin is the vein that is not moving blood efficiently, and the blood that is pooling in the lower extremity. Once this condition develops, it is best addressed by treating the weakened vein. At the Vascular Institute of Virginia, our specialists treat varicose veins using sclerotherapy or endovenous laser therapy. 

Sclerotherapy is a proven vein treatment that has been performed around the world for many years. This treatment closes a poorly-functioning vein via injections of an FDA-approved sclerosing agent. 

Endovenous laser therapy, like sclerotherapy, is an office treatment that closes a poorly-functioning vein. In this procedure, the doctor inserts a tiny catheter into the swollen vein. The catheter emits laser energy and the heat from this energy causes the vein to collapse. 

The Vascular Institute of Virginia has offices in Fredericksburg and Woodbridge. Schedule your appointment at an office near you at 703-763-5224.

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