Varicose veins are a common medical condition that affects many people worldwide. While they are often seen as a cosmetic concern, varicose veins can lead to discomfort and, in some cases, more serious health issues. In this blog, we’ll delve into what varicose veins are, their causes, symptoms, and various treatment options available to manage this condition.
What Are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are enlarged, twisted, and bulging veins that usually appear in the legs and feet. They occur when the one-way valves in the veins malfunction, causing blood to flow backward and pool in the veins. Over time, this pooling of blood leads to the dilation and twisting of the affected veins, resulting in the characteristic appearance of varicose veins.
Causes of Varicose Veins
Several factors contribute to the development of varicose veins, including:
- Age: As we get older, the elasticity of our veins tends to decrease, making them more prone to dilation and valve dysfunction.
- Gender: Women are more likely to develop varicose veins than men, primarily due to hormonal changes during pregnancy and menopause.
- Genetics: A family history of varicose veins can increase your risk of developing them.
- Pregnancy: The increased pressure on the pelvic and leg veins during pregnancy can lead to the development of varicose veins.
- Obesity: Excess body weight places added pressure on the veins in the lower body, increasing the risk of varicose veins.
- Prolonged standing or sitting: Jobs that require long periods of standing or sitting can impede blood flow in the legs, increasing the risk of varicose veins.
Symptoms of Varicose Veins
Varicose veins can cause a range of symptoms, including:
- Pain or aching in the legs, especially after standing for extended periods.
- Heaviness or a feeling of fullness in the legs.
- Itching or burning around the affected veins.
- Swelling in the ankles and lower legs, especially after prolonged sitting or standing.
- Skin changes near the affected veins, such as darkening or inflammation.
- Restless legs syndrome, characterised by a strong urge to move the legs, especially at night.
Treatment Options for Varicose Veins
The treatment for varicose veins depends on the severity of the condition and the symptoms experienced. Here are some common treatment options:
- Lifestyle Changes: Making certain lifestyle modifications can help manage varicose veins. These include maintaining a healthy weight, engaging in regular exercise, avoiding prolonged periods of sitting or standing, and elevating the legs when resting.
- Compression Stockings: Wearing compression stockings can improve blood flow in the legs by applying pressure to the veins. This can help reduce pain, swelling, and the risk of complications.
- Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA): EVLA uses laser energy to seal off and close varicose veins. It is a less invasive alternative to traditional vein stripping surgery.
- Ultrasound Guided Sclerotherapy (UGS) is a non-surgical treatment for recurrent varicose veins. It involves injecting a special solution into the veins, which causes them to collapse and disappear over time.
- Surgical Options: In severe cases, surgical procedures like vein stripping or ligation may be necessary to remove or tie off the affected veins.
Varicose veins are a common vascular condition that can cause discomfort and affect the quality of life for those who suffer from them. While they may not always be preventable, lifestyle changes, compression stockings, and various medical treatments can effectively manage varicose veins and alleviate symptoms. If you suspect you have varicose veins or are experiencing symptoms, schedule a consult at one of our clinics for a proper diagnosis and personalised treatment plan.