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Glossary of Vein Terms

Leg with Magnifying GlassIn order to choose the right treatment for your varicose veins, you need to understand the terminology used by the vein doctor and your treatment team. Refer back to this list of common terms when comparing treatments or researching other venous health conditions. If you still need more information, contact the Vein Institute of Utah.


    • Artery: The blood vessels responsible for carrying blood away from the heart after it has been freshly oxygenated. These vessels are usually larger than other veins, but some arteries are quite small.
    • Balloon: A small inflatable device inserted into your veins and arteries, then inflated to open up vessels that are closed off or blocked. This is considered a less invasive form of vein surgery.
    • Coloration: Varicose veins come in three different colors, but they’re all technically the same whether they’re visibly red, blue, or flesh-colored.
    • Compression Clothing: Socks, stockings, limb wraps, and similar items of clothing used to apply pressure to a body part like a leg or arm to increase blood flow.
    • Contrast Dye: A dye injected into your vascular system so that blood clots, constricted vessels, and other issues can be seen on an MRI or angiogram.
    • Hypertension: Another term for high blood pressure, a condition that increases the chances you’ll develop varicose veins and other vascular problems.
    • Laser Treatment: The least invasive option for treating varicose veins involves treating the swollen veins and damaged skin with a safe laser. There’s a shorter recovery time and less discomfort with this treatment.
    • Leg Bypass: An option for continuing blood flow around a damaged section of leg vein. The blood flow is redirected through a tube that skips over the damaged area while leaving it in place.
    • Obesity: The state of being severely overweight, which is both a cause of varicose veins and a complication for treatment. Losing weight can prevent spider veins from forming and help you recover faster after a vascular surgery.
    • Phlebitis: The general term for any kind of inflammation in a vein or artery, including swelling caused by clots.
    • Reflux: When pressure builds up in a vein due to a blockage or damage, blood can flow backwards and increase the chances of pooling. Backwards blood flow is known as venous reflux.
    • Resting Pain: Pain experienced when resting rather than during activity. One of the most common signs of blood flow problems.
    • Risk Factors: Risk factors for varicose veins include being female, reaching age 50, obesity, diabetes, a lifestyle that forces you to stand for hours a day, and pregnancy.
    • Sclerotherapy: A non-invasive varicose vein treatment that closes off damaged sections of blood vessels with either a low intensity laser or carefully placed injections.
    • Spider Veins: The smaller version of large varicose veins. Spider veins are fine and less visible, but still indicate the same underlying issues with your vascular health.
    • Stenosis: Narrowing of an artery or vein for any reason, including clots and plaque build-up.
    • Stripping Surgery: A simple surgery in which small incisions through the skin allow the doctor to remove the varicose vein in sections.
    • Thrombolysis: A treatment for dissolving blood clots without surgery. Radiated injections remove the clot without putting you at risk.
    • Thrombosis: The technical term for any blockage in a blood vessel, such as a clot.
    • Trendelenburg Vein Test: A very simple physical test used to make varicose veins easier to see and measure. You raise your leg above your heart for a minute or two, then lower it to use the increased blood pressure to make the veins bulge a little.
    • Ulceration: When blood pools for long enough, it can form a wound from the inside out known as an ulcer or ulceration.
    • Varicose Veins: Bulging and visible surface veins in the legs that can feel aching or pulsing, especially after activity.
    • Vascular Medicine: The general practice of diagnosing and treating vascular conditions, including varicose veins.
    • Vein: A blood vessel that is responsible for returning blood to the heart.
    • Venous Insufficiency: The breakdown of the vein valves in your legs that maintain steady pressure and flow. Blood pools in the wrong areas, causing ulcers and pain.

The Utah Vein Institute Can Help

Now that you know a little more about vein terminology, it’s time to schedule a free screening at the Vein Institute of Utah by calling 801-748-0580. Contact us here, or come in and learn about our non-invasive treatment methods and get the help you need to banish varicose veins for good.

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