Veins are a part of your body's circulatory system. They carry blood from your body's tissues back to your heart where it then picks up oxygen and allows your arteries to carry the oxygenated blood back to your body's tissues.
Our veins have one-way valves that keep the blood flowing toward our hearts. If these valves are damaged or weakened, they begin to stop pushing the blood towards the heart and instead the blood pools in your veins, causing swelling. These veins are varicose veins.
What Are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins generally appear on the legs; however, varicose veins can appear anywhere on your body. The appearance of these veins is usually something that causes the sufferer to feel self-conscious because of their oftentimes twisted and bulging appearance.
Are Varicose Veins And Spider Veins The Same?
The miniature version of varicose veins are known as spider veins, or enlarged capillaries close to the surface of the skin. Capillaries are tiny, thin-walled veins that behave as a bridge between our arteries and our veins. Spider veins live up to their namesake. They truly look like interconnected spider webs or tree branches on the surface of your skin.
What Are Risk Factors For Varicose Veins?
Unfortunately, varicose veins don't discriminate. Nearly anyone at any age can develop them. However, there are specific risk factors that can be involved.
- If you have family members who have varicose veins your likelihood of developing them yourself is increased.
- Do you work a desk job or are you consistently on your feet for long periods of time? Sitting or standing for long periods of time increases your risk. This may force your veins in your legs to work harder to pump your blood to your heart, causing damage and ultimately varicose veins.
- If you are overweight, that extra weight can increase pressure on your veins, increasing your risk of developing varicose veins or spider veins.
- The wear and tear of aging unfortunately increases our risk for varicose veins.
- Hormonal changes for women are believed to have effect on risk factors for varicose veins, which is why women tend to get varicose veins more often than men.
- If you have injured your leg at any point in your life, the veins can weaken their ability to move blood back to your heart, increasing your risk for, you guessed it, varicose veins.
What Are Signs Of Varicose Veins?
Signs of varicose veins are not always visible to the eye.
If you have aching pain in your legs, swelling, a sensation of "heaviness," muscle cramping, itching legs, burning or throbbing legs, discoloration or large bluish veins highly visible underneath the skin, you most likely are suffering from varicose veins.
A common complaint is that these symptoms worsen in warmer weather or if you’ve been standing for long periods of time. These symptoms may also be relieved with rest and elevation.
How Can I Treat Varicose Veins?
If you believe you are currently suffering due to varicose veins, talk to your physician for a diagnosis so you can begin appropriate treatment. It is important to address and manage these symptoms before they worsen. There are multiple treatments that we offer to help you in your path to relief and peace of mind.
Common treatment options for varicose veins include:
Medical compression stockings are utilized to support the venous system in the legs. They are useful for decreasing mild leg swelling, slowing the progression for varicose veins. They are generally worn throughout the day and for long periods of time.
Lifestyle changes, including exercise, weight loss, elevation, and avoidance of prolonged standing.
Sclerotherapy or Surface Laser
Sclerotherapy or Surface Laser is often used to treat visible spider veins and small varicose veins near the surface of the skin.
Using ultrasound, a very small catheter is inserted into the affected vein. A specially formulated medical adhesive is used to seal, or close, the diseased vein. Patients are generally encouraged to resume normal activities immediately after the procedure.
With endovenous ablation, a very small catheter is inserted into the affected vein using ultrasound. An energy source (i.e. laser, radiofrequency) is used to cause damage to the inside of the vein wall, causing is to seal down on itself and then eventually be absorbed by the body. Patients are generally encouraged to walk immediately after the procedure and resume normal activities the next day.