Why varicose veins are more than a cosmetic issue
When you have varicose veins, you may be concerned about covering them up, or you may have decided not to worry about them as you go about your day. However, the problems varicose veins present go beyond their appearance.
“Varicose veins are more than just a cosmetic issue states,” Dr. Mitar Vranic, Vascular Surgeon and CEO of Western Vascular Institute. “These large, bulging, and gnarled veins can cause pain as well as blood clots, skin ulcers, and other serious problems.”
To understand how varicose veins cause harm, consider the general purpose of veins in the body. Veins must function properly to maintain good blood flow.
Your veins move blood through your body, moving it from your tissues back up to your heart, and then to your lungs. There, your blood is oxygenated and delivered to arteries, which redistribute the now oxygen-rich blood throughout your body.
When valves found in veins become weak or damaged, blood flow is disrupted. Weak valves can’t function properly against gravity to push blood back up to your heart. When that happens, it causes what’s called venous insufficiency and blood pools in the vein. Because so many veins are near the surface of the skin, that pooling creates visibly full veins that push outward – otherwise known as varicose veins.
Are you at risk?
You are more likely to get varicose veins when you are pregnant, experiencing menopause, or over 50. You are also a higher risk if you live a sedentary lifestyle or if you are obese. Additionally, women are overall at a higher risk than men.
Furthermore, your day-to-day life (which for most people includes work) may affect your risk factor. For example, if your job involves sitting for long periods of time or standing for long periods of time, you are more likely to get varicose veins.
Pay attention to these symptoms of varicose veins:
- Pain in your legs
- Leg heaviness or tiredness
- Skin discoloration
Symptoms generally become worse when it’s hot.
While you cannot control all the risk factors, there are several ways you can decrease your chances of getting varicose veins or minimize adverse effects and health problems if you do have varicose veins:
- Lose weight
- Elevate your legs
- Avoid long periods of standing or sitting
- Wear compression stockings
A vascular surgeon can diagnose you during a physical exam, with the help of an ultrasound that checks your blood flow in both superficial and deep veins.
You may choose to have surgery, much of it minimally invasive, to get rid of your varicose veins. These are a few options:
- Sclerotherapy is a liquid chemical that is injected into your body to shut down incompetent veins.
- RF ablation involves a surgeon making a slight incision near the varicose vein, where a catheter (or small tube) is threaded into the vein. Then, heat is applied via radio waves to close off the vein.
- Phlebectomy involves a surgeon making a small incision and removing varicose veins altogether.
The Vascular Specialists of Western Vascular Institute will help you choose the best option for you, and then support you every step of the way, from education to diagnosis and treatment.
If you are experiencing symptoms of varicose veins or any vein or artery issues, visit Western Vascular Institute for more expert information and to make an appointment.