Description and classification of varicose veins
Varicose veins also known as varices in medical terms, are usually large dilated blood vessels that bulge out and winds along the legs or elsewhere on the body. Smaller blood vessels that are only visible under the skin are called spider veins or thread veins.
Varicose veins are usually harmless and often cosmetically disturbing. However, in some cases, varicose veins provide physical symptoms such as pain, heaviness, itching, tenderness or tingling in the legs. Untreated varicose veins can sometimes lead to eczema, and leg ulcers.
Varices are caused by impaired function of the valves. Inside the veins there are valves that act as check vales which is to carry blood back to the lungs. Therefore, reverse flow in these veins increases the pressure , leading them to being stretched and eventually they begin to bulge out.
Varicose veins are classified on a six-point scale
To determine the severity of the varicose veins are uses in healthcare an international six-point scale called CEAP classification of varicose veins. Patients are divided into following clinical classification as shown below:
- C0 No visible signs of varicose veins or only superficially visible vessels shown.
- C1 One or a few millimeters of large superficial veins/spider veins that are visible under the skin. These are not counted as varicose veins.
- C2 Visible varicose veins are shown. The blood vessels are wider than 4 mm.
- C3 Visible varicose veins are shown and swelling/edema in the leg.
- C4 Visible varicose veins are shown and skin surface exhibits eczema, pigmentation or whitish areas.
- C5 Visible varicose veins are shown and skin surface showss healed scars from ulcers.
- C6 Visible varicose veins are shown with active ulcers in the overlying skin.
In addition to the CEAP scale, varices are also divided as in symptomatic (s), which means that they provide physical symptoms and asymptomatic (a), if they are only cosmetically disturbing. For example, a patient may be C2 – varicose vein classication C2 with physicial complaints (s).
The classification determines the health care options
Patients within the classification of C0-C2 are considered to only have cosmetic problems and are therefore not entiteled to public health care. In such cases, there are simpler treatment options which you can read more about on our page about spider vein treatment.
Patients in classification of C2-C3 are under certain conditions entitled to public health care. However, it may differ from county to county whether one is entitiled to public health care or not.
Anyone who has symptoms under category C4-C6 is entitled to and should seek medical care to prevent the development and worsening of varicose veins or other complications. When an ucler occurs, it can be healed if the varicose veins are treated properly.
Treatment options for varicose veins
The good news are for those who suffer from varicose veins according to CEAP C1-C5 that they are never dangerous to health. Furthermore, there are several treatment options that are simple, painless and effective. You can read more about these on the following pages.