Varicose veins are veins that are enlarged and twisted while also painful to the person affected. In general, any veins can be affected by the condition, but those in the legs are most commonly affected due to the pressure they experience while a person stands and walks.
Although many people experience varicosity and it is most often a merely cosmetic issue, others can have a great deal of pain. When the condition is severe and causes pain and interferes with a person’s everyday life, they will want to seek treatment options. If you have a family history of this condition, you may wonder if you are at risk of developing it yourself. It’s important to understand what can cause this uncomfortable medical condition.
Vein varicosity can occur as a result of damaged or weakened valves. If the arteries in your heart pump blood inefficiently to the veins throughout your body, it can cause the condition to develop. The blood may flow backwardly instead of normally and lead to the veins in your legs becoming twisted or stretched.
Varicose veins can result in pain, discomfort or no significant feeling at all depending on the person and the condition’s severity. There are certain symptoms you may experience that tells you that you have the condition. They include the following:
- Your veins are more pronounced and look blue or dark purple in color
- Your veins look twisted and bulgy, almost like bunched cords in your legs
If you experience pain with the condition, the following symptoms may occur:
- A constant ache or heavy feeling in your legs
- Your lower legs may throb, have a burning sensation, swell or experience more muscle cramping
- Your pain is worse after you have been sitting or standing for long stretches
- You may have itching around one or more vein
- Your legs may show skin discoloration around a vein
There are certain factors that can increase your likelihood of developing vein varicosity. They include the following:
- Age: The older you are, the more likely you are to develop the condition. Your veins experience wear and tear over time that can adversely affect the flow of blood in the valves in your veins.
- Gender: Women are more likely to develop the condition, whether due to hormonal changes such as during pregnancy, while on certain birth control, PMS or menopause.
- Family history: Having a family history can lead to the development of the condition.
- Obesity: Being obese puts extra strain on the veins in your legs.
- Sitting or standing for long periods: Sitting or standing for long stretches can put added strain on your veins and prevent blood from flowing effectively.
This medical condition can result in certain complications. You may want to look into the venous incompetence treatment study. Although these are rare, the following complications can occur:
- Ulcers: You can develop ulcers on the skin of your legs near the affected veins. This is especially common around the ankles. You should immediately see your doctor if you develop an ulcer.
- Blood clots: Sometimes, veins can become enlarged with the condition, which can lead to blood clots. This is s serious condition known as thrombophlebitis and requires medical attention.
- Bleeding: If your veins are very close to the skin, they can burst and bleed. See your doctor immediately.
Treatment for varicosity is relatively minor and is done on an outpatient basis. Your doctor may recommend you wear compression socks or stockings to help the flow of blood in your legs. These are available at most drug stores.
There are at-home methods you can use as well, such as elevating your legs, getting regular exercise, avoiding tight clothing, losing weight and not standing or sitting for too long.
In more serious cases, you might want to your doctor may recommend other treatment options, including the following:
- Sclerotherapy: The doctor injects your veins with foam that can scar and close them, causing varicosity to fade.
- Laser therapy: Laser therapy can cause affected veins to fade.
- Catheter-assisted procedures: The doctor can insert a catheter into a vein and use laser energy or radiofrequency to shrink the vein.
- High ligation and vein stripping: With this procedure, a vein is tied off and removed using small incisions. It’s an outpatient procedure.
- Ambulatory phlebotomy: This is an outpatient procedure that involves the removal of affected veins through skin punctures.
- Endoscopic vein surgery: This is a more advanced surgical procedure that is effective if other methods fail to correct the problem. It’s an outpatient procedure.
Your doctor can help if you suffer from varicose veins. Explore your options to see which treatments are most effective for you.