The Women's Journal

What Your Veins Are Trying To Tell You

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By Anthony Alfieri, DO, FACC  

Your body consists of veins and arteries that allow your heart to move the blood around your body. While arteries carry the oxygenated blood away from the heart, your veins are the pathways or roads that carry blood to your lungs and heart. These veins are durable, strong and flexible but can be affected by certain factors over time. Healthy veins have one-way valves which help to keep the blood moving in one direction only. Family history, age, obesity and hormonal changes (such as pregnancy) are a few of the most common contributing factors in the decline of vein health.

Excessive pressure puts strain on the vein walls and valves. Over time, this strain allows a backwards flow of blood because the valves are no longer able to keep the blood moving in one direction. This backwards flow is often called “venous reflux” or “venous insufficiency.” Blood then starts to pool in these veins causing symptoms such as a tired/heavy feeling, burning, itching and swelling.

As the main superficial veins begin to show signs of venous disease, we begin to see these symptoms progress into vein branches. In essence, if your highways are backed up with traffic, that traffic (blood flow) will overflow into the side roads. These “side roads” or vein branches tend to become visible over time in the form of varicose, reticular or spider veins.

Many people are unsure of where to begin in the process of dealing with their vein issues. Perhaps they’ve heard about old treatment methods which sounded barbaric. Perhaps they aren’t sure if their concerns are valid as they know others with more severe symptoms. Perhaps they fear the out-of-pocket costs of dealing with ANY health issue. Whatever the reason, it is important to seek guidance and advice from a professional. 

Undergoing ultrasound imaging of your legs will show if your veins have venous reflux disease or venous insufficiency. This is a medical condition that affects the blood flow in the lower extremities and it is a progressive disease that will worsen with time if left untreated. Since this is a medical condition, the procedures may be covered by your insurance company. Using the ultrasound report, a vein treatment plan will be developed by your treating physician.

The vein treatment plan can be tailored specifically for you and often involves the closure of troublesome veins. When a road is closed, we are forced to choose a new route to reach our destination. Venous closure causes a detour, or rerouting of the blood flow into veins that are healthy and capable of proper venous return.

Discussing your concerns should always be the first step in developing a plan to treat unhealthy veins. Imaging, such as ultrasound, is usually the best way to fully evaluate your veins and their functionality. Once it is determined that there is a medical issue causing your symptoms, the doctor can develop a plan that will address your needs.


Anthony Alfieri, DO, FACC is a board certified interventional cardiologist who has been practicing in the New Castle County area for over twenty-five years. In that time he has seen and treated many forms of cardiovascular disease, one of which being the progressive and often painful and debilitating venous insufficiency, commonly described as varicose veins. Over the years, Dr. Alfieri came to realize that this problem was frequently underappreciated, misdiagnosed, and undertreated. It was this extensive experience and intense compassion for his patients that drove his desire to provide an effective and permanent treatment and led him to found Delaware Advanced Vein Center. With over twenty-five years of experience as an interventionalist, Dr. Alfieri is uniquely qualified to perform a multitude of vascular procedures with minimal discomfort and maximum, lasting results.


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