Five Key Stages of Vein Disease You Should Know

Five Key Stages of Vein Disease You Should Know

North Atlanta Vascular Clinic and Vein Center


Vein disease occurs when the veins are unable to carry blood to the heart, causing blood to pool in the leg veins. The Society for Vascular Medicine reveals that 30 million people suffer from vein disease, but only 10% of people are getting treatment. Vein disease is manageable, but if left untreated, it can lead to serious health complications. 

Here are the symptoms and five stages of vein disease that you need to know.

Symptoms of Vein Disease

A person with vein disease may experience the following symptoms:

  • Blood clots
  • Varicose veins
  • Heavy legs
  • Fatigue 
  • Leg ulcers
  • Leg swelling
  • Cramping or achy legs
  • Skin discoloration or changes 
  • Spider veins
  • Restless legs

Five Stages of Vein Disease

Stage 1: Spider Veins or Reticular Veins

Spider veins are smaller dilated capillaries and veins that appear just below the surface of the skin. They may cluster with other veins and appear like tiny threads or streaks. Reticular veins appear as blue or red spider-webs on the skin surface but are smaller than varicose veins. Like varicose veins, reticular veins do not protrude above the skin and are often found on the inner thighs, back of the thigh, and occasionally appear on the face. 

Causes of Spider and Reticular Veins

Damaged or weakened veins often cause reticular veins. Other factors that may increase your risk for spider and reticular veins are:

  • Obesity 
  • Family history 
  • Pregnancy or menopause
  • Sitting or standing for long periods
  • Hormone imbalances or changes 

Stage 2: Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are large, dilated veins that appear as twisted veins just below the skin’s surface. Though varicose veins are viewed as a cosmetic issue, they can cause pain.

Causes and Risk Factors of Varicose Veins Damaged or weakened valves inside the veins cannot carry blood to your heart, causing the blood to pool and the veins to stretch, leading to varicose veins.

Other factors that can lead to varicose veins include:

  • Standing or sitting for a long time
  • Age
  • Pregnancy 
  • Obesity 
  • Sex
  • Family history 

Symptoms of Varicose Veins

  • Bleeding or leaking veins
  • Bulging, blue, or dark purple veins
  • Inflammation and swelling of the legs around the varicose veins
  • Twisted or tangled veins
  • Skin discoloration near the varicose veins
  • Burning or itchy legs
  • Pain due to prolonged standing
  • Hardening of the veins
  • Heaviness and aching in the limbs

Stage 3: Swelling of the Legs (Advanced Stage)

When varicose veins are left untreated, it can cause blood to pool in the leg veins and then lead to swelling in the legs and ankles.

Causes of Leg Swelling

  • Smoking
  • Lack of exercise
  • Chronic venous insufficiency 
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Poor diet
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure

Symptoms of Leg and Ankle Swelling

  • Itchy legs
  • Leg ulcers
  • Pain while walking
  • Muscle spasms 
  • Tenderness or numbness near varicose veins
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Disclosed, leathery like skin near varicose veins
  • Tightness in calves or ankles

Stage 4: Skin Discoloration (Lipodermatosclerosis) 

During this stage, your skin becomes thinner and discolored. Also, it is vulnerable to injury, cracks, and bleeding, which will require more time to heal. 

Causes of Skin Discoloration:

  • Obesity
  • Heart disease
  • Poor diet 
  • Prolonged sitting or standing
  • Chronic venous insufficiency disease
  • Hormonal changes

Symptoms of Skin Discoloration 

  • Leg ulcers
  • Skin thickening or hardening around varicose veins
  • Legs tapering above the ankles
  • Pain or swelling in ankles and legs
  • Brown, leathery like skin

Stage 5: Ulcers and Open Wounds (Most Advanced Stage)

In this stage, venous congestion prevents blood circulation and nutrition to the skin, causing ulcers. Categories of skin ulcers include:

  • Arterial ulcers
  • Venous stasis
  • Diabetic ulcers 

Venous stasis contributes to 80-90% of leg ulcers if left untreated. 

Causes of Leg Ulcers

  • Obesity 
  • Chronic venous insufficiency disease 
  • Peripheral vascular disease 
  • Pregnancy 
  • Varicose veins
  • Diabetes mellitus 
  • Heart failure
  • Deep vein thrombosis

Symptoms of Leg Ulcers

  • Skin tightening around ankles
  • Burning and itching legs
  • Open and painful sores on ankles and legs
  • Leg or ankle swelling
  • Yellow/green discharge from sores
  • Aching or painful legs
  • Skin discoloration

Becoming aware of the five stages of vein disease can help you determine whether you are experiencing any vein disease symptoms and take the necessary steps to protect your health. 
Schedule an appointment with us to receive high-quality vein disease treatment in Johns Creek, Cumming, Roswell, and Lawrenceville.


North Atlanta Vascular Clinic and Vein Center

North Atlanta Vascular Clinic is a vascular surgery center located in Suwanee, Cumming, Alpharetta, and Lawrenceville, Georgia. Our vein disease specialists offer a comprehensive examination that includes a physical examination, review of your symptoms, and discussion of your medical history. We use advanced venography techniques and provide effective treatment for several health conditions like DVT, Spider Veins, Leg Cramps, MTS, and more. Contact us to get accurate diagnosis and treatment for all your vascular diseases.

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