Home > How To Deal With Varicose Veins
Updated on Oct 28, 2022 by Dr. Jonathan Arad (Vein Doctor) of Vein Care Center
Varicose veins are other known as varicose or varicosities. It is a condition where the veins become enlarged, overfilled with blood and dilated. Based on their appearance, varicose veins are swollen, raised, bluish-purple or have a red color and they often also hurt. Varicose veins affect women more than men. It is estimated that around 25 percent of adults suffer from varicose veins. They usually appear on the lower part of the legs.
Varicose veins happen when the veins are no longer functioning the way that they should. The function of the veins is to prevent blood from flowing backward through a one-way valve. However, if the one-way valve fails, blood starts to collect within the veins and doesn’t continue towards the heart. This is what leads to an enlargement of the veins. As previously mentioned, this typically occurs in the lower leg. The veins in the lower leg are the farthest from the heart, which means that it is harder for the blood to flow upward due to gravity.
There are different causes that may lead to varicose veins, such as pregnancy, menopause, being of the age of over 50, being obese, standing for long periods of time or having a family history of varicose veins.
The main symptom of varicose veins is that they are very much visible, typically on the legs. Sometimes, patients experience pain, heaviness, swelling, and aching over the veins or around them. There are also some cases, where the veins swell or become discolored. In very severe cases, the veins can start to bleed or ulcers may form.
To be able to diagnose this kind of condition, the top-rated vein specialist will first need to examine the legs and see the visible veins when you are standing up or when you are sitting down. You will also be asked about the symptoms that you are experiencing. There are also cases, where the doctor will ask you to do an ultrasound. An ultrasound helps the physician to check your blood flow in the veins.
It is a noninvasive test, which uses sound waves of a high frequency. In some cases, you might need to get a venogram, as this helps to further evaluate the state of your veins. For this specific test, the doctor will need to inject a certain dye in the legs and have them X-rayed. The dye will then appear on the X-ray, which helps to get a better sense of how the blood is flowing. The reason such tests are done is to help make sure that there isn’t a blockage or a blood clot that is leading to the swelling and pain in your legs.
When it comes to treating varicose veins in Vein Care Center, the doctor first tries conservative methods before recommending invasive and aggressive methods. One way in which you can help your varicose veins is by changing your lifestyle. Your doctor might recommend that you lose weight, should you be obese, and make sure that you maintain a weight that is healthy. Exercise is also a great way of improving circulation. You might also need to avoid standing for long periods of time. In some cases, compression stocks or stockings can also be helpful.
A dietary change might also help to improve the health of your veins. Some of these food types include foods with fiber, potassium or flavonoids.
It is important that you take these steps and changes in your lifestyle even when you already have varicose veins, as this helps to prevent new ones from forming. When you are resting or sleeping, it is important that your legs are elevated.
Compression socks or stockings help your blood to flow more easily to the heart, as they place pressure on the legs. They also have the function of reducing swelling. There are different kinds of compression socks, but mostly you can find them either in medical supply stores or in drugstores. If you don’t see a result even if you tried all these lifestyle changes, your doctor might recommend that you try a more invasive treatment type.
One type of treatment is vein ligation and stripping. It is a surgical procedure, which requires you to get anesthesia. During this procedure, the doctor will cut in the skin, cutting the varicose vein and removing it by using incisions. This type of treatment option is rarely used, as there are less invasive options available now. Some of the less invasive treatment options available include sclerotherapy, laser surgery, micro sclerotherapy, endovenous ablation therapy or endoscopic vein surgery.
Sclerotherapy uses a chemical injection in liquid or foam, which blocks off a larger vein. Microsclerotherapy uses a liquid chemical injection, while laser surgery uses light energy. Endovenous ablation therapy uses heat and radiofrequency waves, while endoscopic vein surgery uses a small lighted scope. This scope is used to male a small incision and block off a vein.
It is important that you speak to your doctor about what your treatment options are and what the risks of the treatment are. Your doctor will recommend a treatment, depending on the symptoms that you experience, the size and location of varicose veins.
In most cases, varicose veins tend to worsen over time. This happens even if you do the necessary lifestyle changes. Although very uncomfortable, varicose veins rarely lead to more severe medical conditions. However, there are cases where varicose veins lead to ulcers or sores on the legs, blood clots or an inflammation that is chronic. In such severe cases, the veins may rupture.
If you do have these types of symptoms, it is important to visit the doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor might suggest that you rake a more aggressive approach, such as surgery or other types of interventions. It is important that you visit the doctor as soon as you detect this type of symptoms, as the sooner you get proper treatment, the better your outcome.Dr. Jonathan Arad has either authored or reviewed and approved this content.