Medical College of Wisconsin Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery - Vein Disease

Vein Disease Requires Specialized Care

Spider veins and varicose veins are common among men and women. People seek treatment for these vein disorders to alleviate pain and discomfort and/or to improve their appearance.
What are varicose veins and their symptoms?

Veins, the vessels that carry blood toward the heart, have valves to prevent blood from flowing backward, causing the leg veins to bulge. Varicose veins, most common in the legs, form when these valves become weak and don’t close properly, allowing blood to flow backward.

Symptoms can range from very mild to severe. Some people have a feeling of heaviness, aching, itching, burning and swelling in their legs as well as fatigue, especially at the end of the day. In severe cases, varicose veins can cause skin color changes, bleeding, itchy rash, and open sores (ulcers). Many people whose legs feel heavy and tired ignore their symptoms, believing this is just a part of aging.

What are spider veins and their symptoms?
Spider veins appear on the surface of the skin and may look like fine lines, “starburst” clusters or a web-like maze. They’re common in the legs. Spider veins may have no symptoms, or they may itch or burn. They can be found alone or in combination with varicose veins. If you have no symptoms, spider veins may only be a cosmetic issue.
Who is affected by vein disorders?
While veins disorders occur in men and women of all ages, women tend to experience vein problems more often. The hormone estrogen plays a role in the development of spider and varicose veins in women. Women who have had many pregnancies tend to have more vein problems. Heredity also plays a role in varicose veins; if either of your parents had varicose veins, then you have a higher risk of having them. Varicose veins can also develop in some people who sit or stand for long periods of time.

Spider veins may be related to heredity, pregnancy, prolonged standing and sitting, injury and high vein pressure from varicose veins.
What is the FORME Aesthetic and Vein Center at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin?
The FORME Aesthetic and Vein Center specializes in the treatment of spider veins and varicose veins. Our team — a board-certified surgeon and interventional radiologists combine their expertise and experience to treat each person’s unique vein disorder. Because patients often have other health problems, we work closely with other specialists at Froedtert & the Medical College and with patients’ physicians to coordinate care.
What treatment options does the FORME Aesthetic and Vein Center provide?
Vein disease is a medical problem, and each disorder is different. Depending on the vein problem, treatment may involve one or more procedures. Today’s advanced treatments – sclerotherapy, microphlebectomy, and thermal and non-thermal ablations – offer much more comfort and are much less invasive than those done in the past, such as vein stripping. All treatments are performed at the clinic. Most patients are able to resume normal activities the day after treatment or sooner.

Sclerotherapy, used to treat spider and varicose veins, involves injecting a solution directly into the veins. The solution irritates the lining of the veins, causing them to contract and collapse. Blood in these veins is directed back into deeper, normal veins.

Microphlebectomy involves making tiny incisions in the skin through which the varicose veins are removed. Stitches are usually not needed.

And thermal ablation, using laser or radiofrequency energy, seal and close the vein. Non-thermal techniques such as Varithena™ (polidocanol microfoam), and VenaSeal™ (cyanoacrylate glue) also seal and close a vein. These thermal and non-thermal techniques have nearly replaced traditional stripping. Physicians will determine which technique is best for your individual situation and insurance coverage.
Can varicose veins lead to limb removal?
No. If you have varicose veins this means you have a problem with the valves in your veins, which affects the return of blood from your legs back to the heart. People who have severely blocked or narrowed arteries, the vessels that carry blood from the heart to the body, may have reduced circulation in their legs and require amputation. But blocked arteries are not related to varicose veins.
What should I consider when looking for a physician to treat a vein disorder?
Look for a board-certified surgeon or interventional radiologist who has a primary interest in vein disease and dedicates part of his or her practice to it, and who uses the latest technology to treat vein disorders.
Can some vein disorders be prevented?
No. If you already have these vein disorders, however, you can manage your symptoms which slows the progression of vein disease. If your job requires you to stand or sit all day, you may want to consider wearing compression stockings. Your physician will prescribe these for you. Other non-procedural options are: walking/exercise, elevating your legs after standing or sitting all day, hydration, and minimizing situations where you are standing or sitting still for long periods of time.

Contact Vascular and Endovascular Surgery

Administrative Offices
(414) 955-1800
(414) 955-0065 (fax)


Medical College of Wisconsin
Vascular and Endovascular Surgery
8701 Watertown Plank Rd.
Milwaukee, WI 53226

FORME Aesthetic and Vein Center
Patient Appointments
(414) 955-1050
(414) 955-0185 (fax)

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