Varicose Veins Treatment
WHAT ARE VARICOSE VEINS?
Varicose veins are swollen, bulging veins that protrude from the surface of the skin, often with a blue or purplish color. They commonly have a rope-like or cord-like appearance on the skin.
Varicose veins are extremely common, affecting up to 15 percent of men and up to 35% of women in the United States.
The word ‘varicose’ comes from the Latin root ‘varix’ which means twisted. While veins anywhere in the body can become varicose, the areas most affected by varicose veins are the legs (often on the backs of calves or inside of legs). This is due to the larger pressure exerted on these veins from sustained standing, walking or other factors.
An example of painful varicose veins found elsewhere in the body is hemorrhoids, which are simply varicose veins found in the anus. While varicose veins are often unsightly and do cause cosmetic concerns, they can cause very significant symptoms and can also be indicative of underlying vein disease, which may progressively get worse if not treated.
WHAT CAUSES VARICOSE VEINS?
Blood circulates through the body and the extremities via a system of arteries (which carry blood away from the heart) and veins (which carry the blood back). To facilitate the return trip of blood towards the heart, veins have a series of one-way valves. As we age (and due to a series of other risk factors including heredity, pregnancy, obesity etc.), these valves can begin to fail, allowing blood to flow backwards.
This often occurs as the elasticity in the vein wall weakens, the vein distends, and the valve leaflets can no longer function properly.
When this valve failure (or venous reflux) occurs in veins of the leg, the blood flows backwards (or back down the leg) and pools in the veins of the lower leg. This increased blood pressure causes the veins to bulge or swell, and may cause fluid to leak outside the vein (causing generalized swelling in the ankles and feet).
Since the blood in these veins is deoxygenated, it often makes them appear blue in color. Without varicose veins treatment, this increased pressure within the legs can progress to cause additional valve failure (causing the varicose veins to ‘grow’ up or down the leg), skin color changes, and in its worst case, non-healing venous ulcers.
Varicose Vein Risk Factors
Varicose veins tend to affect people with certain conditions, including menopause, pregnancy, family history, obesity, and those over 50 years old.
Pregnancy can mean a higher risk of developing varicose veins since pregnant women have much more blood in their body than any other time in their lives. This extra blood puts extra pressure on their circulatory system.
Hormone level changes during pregnancy can also result in a relaxing of the blood vessel walls, increasing the chances of varicose veins. This pressure on the veins in the pelvic area increases as the womb grows.
Treatment Options for Varicose Veins
A nonsurgical, minimally invasive method that uses radiofrequency heat to shrink the vein wall and close it from the inside.
A minimally invasive method that inserts laser fiber directly into the vein. This procedure involves little to no pain.
This safe and effective state-of-the-art process involves introducing an injectable microfoam solution into the affected vein. This will cause the vein to collapse and “deactivate” the microform to reroute the blood flow through the other veins.
A method that involves the insertion of a small needle that injects a chemical solution into the vein. This solution will cause the lining of the vein to swell and close.
Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Varicose Vein Symptoms
While the above varicose veins treatments are the best and most effective means of dealing with varicose veins, certain changes to your lifestyle can help manage any discomfort they might be causing you. These measures can also go a long way toward preventing varicose veins in the first place.
Elevate your legs: take multiple short breaks during your day to improve your circulation by elevating your legs above your heart. For instance, try to lie down with your legs resting on top of a few pillows.
Watch what you’re wearing: opt for low-heeled shoes rather than high-heels to work your calf muscles more, which is better for your veins. Avoid clothing that is tight around your waist, legs, or groin as this can restrict blood flow.
Get active: exercising is a good means of improving blood circulation in your legs. Ask your physician what an appropriate level of physical activity is.
Don’t sit or stand too long: change positions frequently during the day to encourage blood flow.
Watch what you eat: losing weight can take considerable pressure off of your veins. Aim specifically for a diet low in salt to avoid the swelling caused by water retention.
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About Our Doctor
Dr. Lawrence J. Markovitz