Varicose Veins- Causes, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention
Varicose veins, also known as venous insufficiency, are common in adults. The condition is generally caused by damage to the valves in your veins, which help blood flow correctly.
Varicose veins can occur on any part of the body, but they most often appear on the legs, ankles, or feet.
Varicose veins are not serious health issues, but they can be uncomfortable and embarrassing. They may also cause ulcers and an infection called cellulitis that requires medical treatment immediately
What are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are swollen, enlarged veins that can be painful and unsightly. They can be found in the legs, groin, or scrotum. Varicose veins are a common condition that affects up to 20% of people with leg swelling (edema).
Varicose veins are most commonly found in the legs. They may be visible or hidden, depending on where they are located.
Varicose veins can be painful and cause aching, itching, and burning sensations. The discomfort can range from mild to severe and may worsen when standing or sitting still for long periods (such as during a flight).
When do Varicose Veins Appear?
Varicose veins are more common in women than men, although they can affect both. Varicose veins typically start to appear after age 40 and are more common with advancing age.
Varicose veins increase during pregnancy due to the increased pressure on the leg veins caused by the growing baby.
There is also an increased risk of varicose veins if you have a family history of them.
While the exact cause of varicose veins is not known, they are thought to be caused by a combination of factors, including:
-An inherited tendency to develop varicose veins
-Family history of varicose veins
-Age (40 and above)
Who is at Risk for Varicose Veins?
- People who are overweight or obese.
- Those with a family history of varicose veins.
- People who have participated in an inactive lifestyle for a long time and then suddenly start to exercise intensely and excessively, such as athletes who play sports that require sudden changes in direction (for example, soccer players).
- Pregnant women due to the increase in pressure on the veins during pregnancy. This is one of the reasons why pregnant women tend to suffer from varicose veins more than others.
- Women taking birth control pills because these medications contain estrogen, which can increase the production of collagen inside your body and thus cause your blood vessels to dilate more easily than usual.
- People whose job requires them to stand for a long duration.
What are the Symptoms of Varicose Veins?
The symptoms of varicose veins include:
• Swelling, itching, burning, and tingling.
• Cramping, throbbing, and aching.
• Swollen veins.
• Skin discoloration (darker or lighter).
• Skin thickening (thicker than usual). The skin on your legs may look like it’s been stretched out, which can cause dark patches on your thighs and calves. This happens because the tiny blood vessels under the skin get damaged over time by the pressure caused by enlarged veins in your leg(s).
What is the Risk for Serious Complications with Varicose Veins?
The risk of serious complications from varicose veins is low.
But it increases with age and in people with a large number of varicose veins.
If you're having trouble breathing and swelling in your legs, you may need to see your doctor even if the condition clears up on its own. Your doctor can take steps to prevent this type of problem from happening again.
How are Varicose Veins Diagnosed?
A doctor can diagnose suspected varicose veins.
Varicose veins are usually diagnosed by physical examination of the legs. In this exam, the physician will check for swelling and discoloration around the ankles or calves, as well as any bulging of tissues in your lower extremities. The doctor may also look for signs of blood clots within the vein walls or abnormal tissue growths such as skin tags.
If a patient’s symptom history indicates they might have varicose veins, but there is not enough evidence to make an accurate diagnosis using just physical examination alone, doctors may use ultrasound imaging to get more information about what is going on inside each leg and confirm whether or not there are signs of venous disease present.
Doppler Ultrasound images can help determine the following:
how many varicoses you have;
how deep they go into your leg;
whether there are any other vein issues like spider veins (Telangiectasia) present along with them;
and if these issues are affecting surrounding muscle tissue or nerves from lack of blood supply coming from larger vessels above them (like femoral arteries).
What are the Treatment Options for Varicose Veins?
There are a number of treatments for varicose veins, including compression stockings, sclerotherapy, Minimal Invasive Surgery, and Open Surgery.
Compression Stockings are available in varying degrees of pressure (30–40 mmHg). They can be worn during the day or at night and should be worn any time you're on your feet for long periods of time.
Sclerotherapy is injected directly into the vein via a microcatheter; it's used to treat small varicose veins that aren't visible to the naked eye. Treatment can cause discomfort but doesn't require downtime; patients can return to regular activity after treatment.
Endo Venous Laser Ablation and Radio Frequency Ablation are minimally invasive treatments that are used to treat more prominent varicose veins.
Endo Venous Laser Ablation uses heat from laser light to seal off the vein and stop blood flow, while Radio Frequency Ablation uses radio waves to cause tissue damage that blocks blood flow. These procedures are typically done on an outpatient basis; patients may need to take a few days off from work or activity but can resume normal activities as soon as they feel comfortable doing so.
Can I Prevent Varicose Veins?
The best way to prevent varicose veins is by avoiding certain risk factors.
• Avoid standing or sitting for long periods of time. Standing puts pressure on the veins in your legs and may contribute to varicose veins. The same is true for sitting for prolonged periods of time, which can also increase pressure on the veins in your pelvis, thighs, and calves. If you have to stand for an extended period of time at work, try switching positions every 15 minutes or so.
• Avoid wearing tight clothing that puts pressure on your legs while they’re bent (like jeans or stockings). This can restrict blood flow back up through the leg veins and make them more likely to become enlarged over time, as well as increase discomfort caused by having too little space available inside each vein’s walls due to too much fluid buildup (edema).
• Exercise regularly so that you maintain healthy circulation throughout all parts of your body.
Are you considering treatment for your varicose veins?
Talk to your doctor on how best to treat your condition.
When it comes to treating varicose veins, you have a range of options. Your doctor may recommend minimally invasive procedures, such as sclerotherapy or laser and radiofrequency ablation. Open Surgery or Stripping of the Veins is also an option, but it's usually considered a last resort.
Varicose veins are common, especially among women and people aged 40 or older. If you have varicose veins, there are many treatments available to help improve your symptoms.
Your doctor may recommend that you try a combination of lifestyle changes, including exercise and wearing compression stockings when standing for long periods of time.