Varicose Veins: All You Need to Know About It

Varicose veins are huge, dark-colored veins that appear like a twisted cord. They form the valves around your affected veins and become weak, this is a process that is natural because of aging. According to statistics, almost 30-50-% adults develop the problem of Varicose veins with time, most of the time it’s in the lower legs. 

While they provide an unwanted appearance, they don’t generally cause health conditions. Regardless, there are a lot of options to treat Varicose veins for cosmetics and therapeutic purposes. Moreover, most of the treatments tend to improve the situation to some degree. In this article, we’ve outlined some of the most important things you should definitely know about Varicose veins. 

Symptoms of Varicose Veins

It’s possible to have one or more varicose veins. All of them can be of different sizes, and shapes or they may share the same appearance. Certain activities cause them to become enlarged over time, or increase in numbers. In a lot of cases, varicose veins remain stable. 

Here are the most common symptoms of Varicose Veins:

  • Bluish, purplish, or pinking appearance of one or more veins
  • Twisted or bulging looking veins beneath the skin
  • Itching or rash near the affected vein
  • Pain in legs
  • Small areas of bruising near the veins (these tend to heal themselves in a couple of days)
  • Tenderness of discomfort near the veins

Most of the time, Varicose veins appear in your legs, they can also appear on other parts of your body but that’s less common. The veins feel soft when you press them, and they generally don’t hurt or change appearance. Touching them or massaging them isn’t harmful. 

Pain in your legs is not directly related to the size of the Varicose veins. If you’re feeling any pain related to Varicose veins, then chances are you’d experience pain in all of them instead of any particular one. 

Varicose veins are similar to spider veins but there are some differences between them:

Varicose VeinsSpider Veins
Individual swollen veinsGroups of tiny dilated vessels
Larger in sizeGenerally smaller than varicose veins
Bulging/twisted appearanceDon’t bulge out

Complications Related To Varicose Veins

It’s rare for varicose veins to cause other health issues. However, when these complications do come up, they require medical or surgical intervention. When they’re left untreated, it can lead to some major issues. 

It’s important that you seek medical attention as soon as you feel some signs of medical issues associated with Varicose veins. 

Complications that you should be on the lookout for are:

  • Hematoma: A large area of bruising or bleeding under your skin
  • Ulceration: An open wound that won’t heal
  • Phlebitis: Infection of the vein
  • Thrombophlebitis: Infections and blood clots in the veins

Common symptoms of these health complications include:

  • Fever
  • Redness
  • Welling
  • Pain
  • Severe tenderness
  • Warm feeling near a varicose vein

Causes of Varicose Veins

Varicose Veins happen when the valves inside your veins become weak or get damaged. Our bodies have two types of blood vessels: arteries and veins. Each of them plays an important role, they move oxygen and carbon dioxide throughout your body, which helps in the respiration process. 

Arteries carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the rest of your body. Veins on the other hand carry carbon dioxide-rich blood back to the heart. The pumping action of the heart pushes blood through the arteries, and valves in veins help move blood along. 

When these valves are not functioning well, blood can move slowly or even get stuck in your veins due to gravity. This is what makes your varicose veins look like they’re bulging. 

Varicose veins are more common in men compared to women, other risk factors for varicose veins include:

  • Older age
  • Pregnancy
  • Family history of Varicose veins
  • Daily standing for hours at the same time
  • Chronic constipation
  • A history of deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

A lot of these risk factors can be managed with simple changes in lifestyle. Do keep in mind, that it’s a rumor that crossing your legs can cause varicose veins. 

Treatment of Varicose Veins

If you’ve been diagnosed with varicose veins, there’s a good chance that you won’t require any treatment unless you develop complications. In these cases, varicose veins are treated for cosmetic reasons or if complications develop. If you don’t like the way your veins look, you should talk with your healthcare providers about different treatments and assess the level of satisfaction after treatment. 

1. Lifestyle Changes

Sometimes lifestyle changes can make varicose veins appear smaller and less prominent. Although, they’re more likely to be prevented than treatment. 

  • Exercise: Exercising can strengthen the muscles surrounding your varicose veins. If you’re overweight, it can help in losing weight.
  • Compression Stockings: Sometimes, healthcare providers recommend compression socks, especially if prolonged standing is causing swelling in your lower legs. Compression stockings fit snugly and they can squeeze the legs. This helps in moving blood through your veins towards the heart. It prevents blood clotting. 

2. Medical and Surgical Treatment

  • Radiotherapy: For radiotherapy, your healthcare provider will use ultrasound to guide a catheter into your veins. Then heat will be applied to damage the vein, leading to scar tissue.
  • Laser Therapy: Laser therapy requires a small incision and a catheter (thin tube) with ultrasound guidance to direct light energy to the Varicose vein. 
  • Ligation and Vein Stripping: Your healthcare provider will surgically ligate (tie off) the varicose vein. Larger veins may be stripped using a small incision. Based on where your veins are located, the procedure can be as minimal or invasive.
  • Phlebectomy: In this procedure, small cuts are made in the skin in order to remove affected veins. 

Summing Up: Varicose Veins

Almost half of all adults experience varicose veins. While they’re mostly harmless, these enlarged veins can be troubling at times, and can even cause complications (infection). Seek medical attention if you have a burning sensation, or throbbing near a varicose vein, or if your legs feel achy or heavy even after elevating them. 

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