Whether you have them or are worried about getting them, varicose veins are more cosmetically displeasing than an actual health concern. While they can lead to some complications, most people seek to decrease their presence primarily for aesthetic reasons. The good news is, while there are several medical procedures that can help you do that, there are also simple home remedies that will help as well.
Varicose veins are a fairly common occurrence with about 1 in every 4 adults developing them. In this article we’ll discuss what causes varicose veins, what are common symptom, and how to treat them both medically and at home.
What Causes Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are commonly cause by the stretching of blood vessels and weakening of valves. The valves in our veins only allow blood to flow one way. But when our blood vessels are stretched, it can weaken the valves and cause blood that it meant to travel up the leg and back to the heart, to slide back down in the opposite direction—you can thank gravity for that. This leads to blood pooling and the veins becoming larger and more visible on the surface of the skin due to swelling.
Another cause of varicose veins can be inflammation and general blood pressure increases in the veins. Blood pressure in your veins can increase because of pregnancy, obesity or weight gain, constipation, or a tumor. Other causes of weakening veins and valves can include menopause, increased standing, family genetics, and being over 50 years old.
Symptoms of Varicose Veins
While the symptoms aren’t dangerous, they can be uncomfortable. Symptoms can include aching, swelling, bluish veins visible under the skin, spider veins, legs feeling heavy after working out, excessive bleeding if injury occurs in the same area where there are varicose veins are located, and other similar symptoms.
Varicose Vein Treatment
There are both medical options and some home remedies that individuals can try when dealing with varicose veins. Some home remedies include losing weight, working out, elevating legs (to help the blood flow in the correct direction), and avoiding any activity that requires you to sit or stand for long periods of time. You can also purchase and use compression socks or stockings to help improve your circulation.
While medical treatments are rarely needed, there are several options available if you do have complications or if you simply want to improve your legs cosmetically.
1. Vein Stripping
Vein stripping, also known as vein ligation, is an involved surgery procedure that requires a small incision be made at the top and bottom of the damaged vein, typically near your groin and knee or ankle. A thin, plastic wire is then inserted, attached to the affected vein, and it is then pulled out of the leg. This surgery is typically reserved for veins that are deep under the skin. For veins closer to the surface of the skin, small cuts can be made to easily remove those veins without using the plastic tubing.
Sclerotheraphy is used predominately for small to medium varicose veins. In this treatment, a doctor will inject liquid or foam chemicals that will cause the vein to be seal off. Shortly after this treatment, the vein will fade. Some veins, however, will need to receive this treatment more than once.
3. Endovenous Ablation
This procedure can be done within a doctor’s office and involves the doctor threading a catheter through the damaged vein. A probe is inserted as the catheter moves through the vein and heats the walls of the vein with radiofrequencies. This destroys the vein and allows the body to absorb it. This procedure can be preferred to vein stripping.
4. Endovenous laser treatment
Another treatment that might be preferred over vein stripping is endovenous laser treatment. The procedure is similar to ablation, except instead of a probe that heats the vein, a laser travels through a catheter inserted into the vein and heats the vein sealing it shut.
If you don’t yet have varicose veins but know that they run in your family, you’ll want to start practicing prevention to avoid them from forming. To help prevent varicose veins, make sure you’re exercising on a regular basis. Exercise will help with circulation, but also with maintaining a healthy weight.
You’ll want to make sure that you aren’t on your feet for too long and that when you sit down, you aren’t crossing your legs. If you’ll be reclining for long periods (either while watching TV or sleeping), consider propping your feet up on a pillow or cushion as well.
If you have more questions about your veins, I am happy to help answer them. Also, if you are dealing with varicose veins, I would love to speak to you about treatment options that work. Give my office a call at 423-472-5423.