What Are Veins and What Do They Do?

We talk about veins a lot here at Fox Vein & Laser Experts, focusing on topics such as vein procedures, vein removal, varicose and spider vein symptoms and prevention, etc. We tend to talk mostly about damaged veins, i.e., what varicose veins and spider veins are, and how to treat and get rid of them. It’s time that we talk more about healthy veins, and why properly functioning veins are so important to our well being. 

Veins, in the most simplest of explanations, are responsible for bringing deoxygenated blood from the organs to the heart. There are multiple veins in the body, which all work together as part of a network called the venous system.

Each of our veins have walls that are made up of three layers: the tunica externa, tunica media, and tunica intima. Each of these layers have different characteristics and functions. The tunica externa is the thickest and outermost layer of the vein, made mostly of connective tissue. Inside this layer are very small blood vessels called vasa vasorum that supply blood to the walls of the vein. The tunica media, the middle layer, is thin and mostly made up of collagen, which is the one of the main components of connective tissue. The innermost layer is the tunica intima, which is made up of endothelium cells, connective tissue, and sometimes also has one-way valves that are meant to prevent blood from flowing backward. These one-way valves are mostly found in the arms and legs.

The venous system is made up of a variety of different types of veins, often named and categorized based on where they are found in the body. 

The first category focuses on circulation and how blood flows through the body. There are two circuits through which blood moves: pulmonary and systemic. Veins that are found within the pulmonary circuit have a two-part job. First, they carry deoxygenated blood from the heart to the lungs, in order for it to be oxygenated. Then, they carry that oxygenated blood from the lungs back to the heart. There are only four specific veins that are categorized as pulmonary veins. They differ from systemic veins because of their capacity to carry both deoxygenated and oxygenated blood through the body. 

Veins that are found within the systemic circuit are responsible for carrying deoxygenated blood from all of the other parts of the body, aside from the lungs, to the heat, and that is when the pulmonary veins take over and oxygenate the blood. The majority of the veins in our body are systemic, and there are three main types: deep veins, superficial veins, and connecting veins.

The veins found in our muscles and around the bones are referred to as deep veins. These are the veins that often have those one-way valves that are meant to prevent blood from flowing backward. Deep veins are compressed but other surrounding muscles, which helps keep the blood flowing in the right direction.

Superficial veins are found within the fatty layer under the skin. Sometimes these veins also have one-way valves, but what makes them different from deep veins is that they are not located close to any muscle. That means that there is no compression or pressure helping to move the blood along through the veins much more quickly, and results in much slower moving blood.

Connecting veins basically act as a liaison between the deep veins and the superficial veins. The blood that moves through superficial veins flows through the connecting veins in order to reach the deep veins. The valves of connecting veins only move one way, however, so while blood can flow from the superficial veins to the deep veins, it cannot flow from the deep veins back to the superficial veins.

There are many different conditions that can cause damage and disrupt the proper functioning of the veins. Some of these conditions include: 

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is when blood clots form in a deep vein. This particular condition is a serious one to watch for, as the clot could travel to the lungs and cause pulmonary embolism and damage the lungs.

Superficial Thrombophlebitis, which is when a superficial vein becomes inflamed and forms a blood clot, which could potentially travel to a deep vein and result in DVT, and chronic venous insufficiency

Our most common patients are those with varicose veins who are suffering from aches and pains, swelling and feelings of heaviness in the legs and feet — not to mention the unsightly visible veins that show their ugly faces on the body. Varicose veins happen when the vein walls become weak, or the one-way valves stop working properly, causing blood to flow backward. Similar to varicose veins, but with more symptoms, is chronic venous insufficiency. This is when one-way valves stop functioning correctly and cause blood to pool within the superficial and deep veins.

If you are suffering from any of these venous conditions, this is where we come in to help! At Fox Vein & Laser Experts, we offer vein treatments to treat and get rid of damaged veins, allowing new, healthy veins to grow in their place and do their job to keep you healthy. 

Dr. Susan B. Fox and her team of medical experts have been successfully diagnosing and treating vein diseases for decades, and are the best vein doctors in South Florida to get the job done. With offices in Hollywood and Pembroke Pines, we provide services to patients in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties, and even those who have traveled from out of Florida as well. We will gladly answer any of your questions and concerns about veins in general and/or your particular condition, and make sure you feel as comfortable as possible about the entire treatment process. Give us a call today at 954-627-1045 to schedule a consultation.