Varicose veins refer to twisting, swollen, and enlarged veins that often look blue or dark purple. Also known as varicosities, they occur when faulty valves in the veins become dilated and overfilled with blood. Although any superficial vein can be affected, this condition primarily impacts veins in the legs and feet.
While they can be disfiguring and painful, they’re typically harmless. These become tender to the touch when inflamed and can block circulation that can cause itchy skin, swelling, and aching in the affected limb.
Fortunately, varicose veins are preventable and manageable. Learn more about this condition so you know what your options are
Symptoms of Varicose Veins
The most noticeable symptoms include the highly visible blue or dark purple veins that usually appear on your legs. In most cases, it doesn’t cause any pain. However, some patients might also experience other symptoms including:
- aching legs
- restless legs syndrome, which affects a significant number of people with varicose veins
- a small injury on the affected area might result in extended bleeding
- atrophie blanche (irregular whitish patches that resemble scars) at their ankles
- telangiectasia (spider veins) in the affected leg
- a shiny, brownish or blue skin discolouration near the varicose veins
Causes of Varicose Veins
Having damaged or weakened valves can cause varicose veins. The arteries are responsible for carrying the blood from your heart to the rest of your body, while the veins send them back to your heart. This is done with the help of flexible vein walls and muscle contractions in your lower legs that act as pumps.
The tiny valves in your veins expand as the blood goes toward your heart and then closes to stop it from flowing backward. Should they become damaged or weak, your blood can flow in the opposite direction and accumulate in the vein and cause the veins to twist or stretch.
Risk Factors for Varicose Veins
The following factors can likely increase the risk of developing varicose veins:
- Aging – Ageing can lead to wear and tear on the valves in your veins that are assigned to control blood flow. When enough damage has been done, these valves will lose their ability to direct blood properly. Rather than flow upwards to your heart, the blood can instead become clogged in your veins.
- Family History – If other members in your family have varicose veins, then it’s likely for you to have them, as well.
- Obesity – Being overweight adds more pressure to your veins, causing a blockage.
- Pregnancy – The volume of blood in your body increases during pregnancy. Though it’s for supporting the growing fetus, it can also produce enlarged veins in your legs.
- Sex – Women are more at risk of developing varicose veins. Hormonal changes during pregnancy, pre-menstruation, or menopause can be a factor since female hormones tend to loosen vein walls. Hormone treatments like birth control pills may also increase your risk.
- Prolonged Standing or Sitting – Blood may not flow as well if you stay in the same position, either standing or sitting, for a long time.
Treatments for Varicose Veins
If you’re indifferent by the sight of them and you don’t feel any discomfort, then treatment may not be necessary. You may require it if there are symptoms to reduce any pain and to address any complications.
Here are some different ways to treat varicose veins:
- Endovenous Laser Treatment – This treatment requires a local anesthetic. The doctor inserts a catheter into the vein. They string a small laser through it and place it at the top of the target vein. With an ultrasound scan, they thread the laser up the vein and gradually burn and close it.
- Ligation and Stripping – The surgeon makes 2 incisions. The first is near the patient’s groin at the top of the target vein. The second is further down the leg, either at the knee or ankle. They tie up and seal the top of the vein. They thread a thin and flexible wire through the bottom of the vein and pull it out, which also takes the vein with it.
- Radiofrequency Ablation – The doctor makes a small incision either above or below the knee. Using an ultrasound scan, they thread a catheter into the vein. They’ll also insert a probe that emits radiofrequency energy into the catheter. The energy heats the vein, which causes its walls to collapse.
- Sclerotherapy – The doctor injects a chemical solution into small and medium-sized varicose veins, which scars and closes them. After a few weeks, these treated veins should fade. For this procedure, they might need to inject the same veins more than once. It doesn’t require anesthesia.
- Surgery – If you have large varicose veins, you may need surgery to remove them. This procedure is usually under general anesthetic to prevent any discomfort. Patients can go home the same day, but if both legs need surgery, they might need to spend a night in the hospital.
- Transilluminated Powered Phlebectomy – The doctor inserts an endoscopic transilluminator through an incision under the skin. Through this, they can see which veins they need to take out. They cut the veins and remove them with the use of a suction device through the incision. The doctor may use a local or general anesthetic for this procedure.
Varicose Veins Prevention
Some measures can help reduce feelings of discomfort that varicose veins can cause. These can also help you slow down the process of their development. Here are ways to prevent varicose veins:
- Avoid Prolonged Standing or Sitting – Make sure to change your position frequently to encourage blood flow to your legs.
- Be Careful of What You Wear – Avoid wearing tight clothes around your legs, groin, or waist since they can impede blood circulation. Also, wear low-heeled shoes to work your calf muscles.
- Diet – Treat varicose veins by losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight. Change your diet into a low-salt one to prevent swelling that’s caused by water retention.
- Raise Your Legs – Elevating your legs above the level of your heart can help improve blood circulation in your legs. Take short breaks daily and lie down with your legs resting on 3 or 4 pillows.
While varicose veins may be common, they can be managed and treated so you don’t have to experience prolonged discomfort.
If you’re looking to get rid of your varicose veins, then look no further than em clinic. Our team offers excellent Cutera Laser treatment to help remove facial and leg veins. For inquiries, please contact us by calling (519) 668-7449 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.