Varicose veins are enlarged, twisted veins that are dark blue or purple in color. Up to 3 in 10 adults are affected by varicose veins. Varicose veins mainly affect women, although men can get them too.
One complaint of those who have varicose veins, which usually occur on the legs, is how unsightly they look. For this reason, people with varicose veins might avoid wearing clothes that expose these bulging veins. Unfortunately, unsightly veins can also occur on more exposed parts of the body, such as the face, where it’s harder to hide them.
For some, varicose veins in the legs cause an achy, heavy feeling in the legs as well as swelling in the feet and ankles. Sometimes pain caused by varicose veins feels worse after sitting or standing for long periods of time. If you want to know more, here are the answers to five frequently asked questions about varicose veins.
- What Causes Varicose Veins?
The human circulatory system is comprised of blood vessels that carry blood throughout the body. The two kinds of blood vessels are veins and arteries. Veins carry blood from the body back to the heart and contain valves that prevent blood from flowing in the wrong direction. When valves stop functioning, they can prevent blood from flowing to the heart properly. The blood then begins to collect in the vein, creating pressure that causes it to stretch and become enlarged.
Conditions such as pregnancy and obesity put added pressure on the veins, which can increase the risk of damage to the vein walls. Walking can relieve some of that pressure because the movement causes the calf muscles to contract which helps pump blood up to the heart, against the force of gravity. However, this also means that when a person is not walking and standing still for long periods of time their risk of varicose veins increases because the legs are not engaged in helping to pump the blood. People at highest risk for varicose veins include those over the age of 50, those who have a family history of varicose veins, those with occupations that involve long periods of standing and those suffering from obesity.
- Are There Any Complications Associated with Varicose Veins?
People with varicose veins might simply choose to live with them instead of doing anything about them. What they may not realize, however, is that varicose veins can cause certain complications.
One such complication of varicose veins is ulcers on the skin. These skin ulcers form near the varicose vein. The first sign of this kind of ulcer is skin discoloration. In some instances, enlarged varicose veins deep within the leg cause the leg to become swollen. If this swelling is accompanied by pain, it could indicate that a blood clot has formed.
Bleeding is another complication associated with varicose veins. When a varicose vein close to the skin bursts open, it results in bleeding. This can even occur with smaller veins that can be accidently cut when shaving the legs. People with varicose veins have an increased risk of blood clots in these veins and are at increased of developing blood clots in the deeper veins (a more serious potential life threatening condition called deep venous thrombosis, or DVT).
Finally, varicose veins can cause uncomfortable symptoms such as pain, throbbing, swelling, itching and heaviness. Sometimes a patient with these symptoms may have varicose veins and not even know it because the damaged veins are deep below the surface of the skin.
- What Treatment Options Are Available for Varicose Veins?
Due to the complications that might arise from varicose veins, you should have them evaluated and treated quickly. The good news is that there are many treatment options available for varicose veins.
One of the most common treatment options for varicose veins is to wear compression stockings. Compression socks put pressure on the legs, which forces blood to flow more easily toward the heart. However, it is important to note that compression stockings can only help ease the symptoms of varicose veins – they cannot make varicose veins heal or disappear.
People may also adopt certain lifestyle changes that can reduce symptoms associated with varicose veins. Some of these lifestyle changes include keeping the legs elevated and avoiding standing for long periods of time.
There are a number of minimally-invasive medical procedures that can also be used to permanently eliminate varicose veins. These treatments can be performed in the office of a board-certified doctor of phlebology, are virtually pain-free and involve little-to-no downtime or scarring. Some of the most common and effective treatments for varicose veins include:
- Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT). A laser is used to close off the vein.
- Microphlebectomy. The vein is removed from the leg’s surface through a microscopic incision.
- Sclerotherapy. A solution is injected into the vein that causes it to collapse and become reabsorbed into the body.
- Saphenous Vein Ablation. Radiofrequency energy is used to collapse the vein, after which it closes and becomes sealed.
In some cases, such as pregnancy, varicose veins will disappear on their own and will not require treatment.
- How Can Varicose Veins Be Prevented
After varicose veins have been treated, there are some things that can be done to prevent them from developing again. Pregnant women should wear compression hose if possible. Maintaining a normal body weight and regular leg exercise are other measures. Cycling, walking, and swimming are excellent.
- Who Provides Varicose Vein Treatment in California?
Advanced Vein Center sees patients from all over Southern California. Additionally, because of our exceptional reputation we frequently see patients who travel to us from out-of-state and even internationally. Do you want to receive treatment for your varicose veins? If so, contact Advanced Vein Center. We provide a variety of services to treat your varicose veins. Our doctors are board-certified in the field of phlebology, which is the specialty of vein disorders.