The gnarled, enlarged veins are ugly designs that appear in legs and feet. These veins are called varicose veins.
Beauty concern is what varicose vein is for many people; however, this is not the case for other people, for it is causing pain and discomfort. Sometimes varicose veins may lead to a more serious medical issue including a higher risk of a circulatory problem.
Symptoms of Varicose Veins
Symptoms of varicose veins are categorized in two. One is painful and the other is not. The painless one is visually appearing on the legs with a dark purple or blue color. It is also twisted and bulging and often appears cord-like on the legs.
When painful signs and symptoms occur, it includes an achy or heavy feeling in the legs. Burning, throbbing, and muscle cramping and swelling in the lower leg are also felt. These worsened pain may be experienced after sitting or standing for several hours. The patient may also feel itching around the veins and bleeding from the varicose vein can also happen. If the vein changes color and harden, and skin or skin ulcers near the ankle inflamed, it means that a patient has a serious form of vascular disease that requires medical attention.
The heart pumps the blood to the rest of the tissues through arteries. The blood recirculate when veins return blood to the heart. To return blood to the heart, the veins in the legs have to work against gravity.
The contractions in the lower leg muscles act as pumps, and elastic vein walls help blood return to the heart. Blood flows toward the heart through the opening of the tiny valves in the veins, and it closes to stop blood from flowing backward.
Causes of Varicose Veins
The causes of varicose veins include (1) age and (2) pregnancy.
- The veins can lose its elasticity as you get older causing for it to stretch. The blood that should be flowing toward the heart may flow backward because the valves in the veins become weak. The blood pools in the vein, and the veins enlarge in response, and this causes varicose.
- The reason some women develop varicose veins is because pregnancy increases the volume of blood in the body, but the condition decreases the flow of blood from the legs to the pelvis. The circulatory change is designed to support the growing baby in the mother’s womb; however, this also can produce an ugly side effect. That is the enlargement of veins in the legs.
Risk Factors of Varicose Veins
As mentioned earlier, the veins weaken as you get older. The valves in the veins wear and tear on and it eventually causes to allow some blood to flow back and collect instead of flowing back to the heart.
As unfair as it sounds, but women are more likely to develop the condition. This is because of the hormonal changes women experience during pregnancy and premenstruation (or menopause). According to an article, female hormones tend to relax vein walls. Birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy may increase the risk of varicose veins.
If your family have a history of varicose veins, there is a greater chance that you will have it too.
Extra weight added pressure on the veins.
Standing or sitting for long periods of time
The blood is stuck when you’re in the same position for very long hours. Try to reposition if you are standing or sitting too long.
To prevent the risk of varicose vein, you should have a healthy lifestyle. It is highly recommended to do exercises for a better blood flow. Also, try elevating your legs. You should also watch your weight, diet, and what your wear–void high heels and tight hosiery. You should also avoid long period standing or sitting. Sitting with cross leg should also be limited.
Varicose Veins Treatment
Fortunately, treatment for varicose veins can be treated on an outpatient basis. It means that the patient doesn’t need to stay in the hospital for a long, uncomfortable recovery.
For self-medication or care, the mentioned prevention tips are also applicable as treatment. However, if varicose veins become a severe condition, there are outpatient treatment available.
1. Outpatient Treatment
The doctor, in this procedure, injects small–and medium-sized varicose veins with a solution that closes those veins. The varicose veins should fade in a few weeks.
Foam sclerotherapy of large veins
This is a newer technique wherein the doctor injects the large vein with a foam solution to close a vein and seal it.
Through the newest technology, doctors treat varicose veins by laser treatments. This works by sending strong burst of light onto the vein which closes it off.
Catheter-assisted procedures using radiofrequency or laser energy
The procedure is done through the insertion of a thin tube called catheter into an enlarged vein. The catheter’s tip is heated up using either radiofrequency or laser energy. The heat collapses and seal the vein shut.
High ligation and vein stripping
This procedure is done by tying off a vein, joining it to a deep vein, and removing it through small incisions. Removing the vein won’t affect blood circulation. It is because the deeper veins in the leg take care of the larger volumes of blood.
The patient’s leg is injected with an anesthetic to numb. The numbness is a necessity for the removal of the small varicose veins through a series of tiny skin punctures scarring the patients minimally.
Endoscopic vein surgery
The surgeon will insert a thin video camera in the leg to visualize and close varicose veins. The enlarged veins will be removed through small incisions. This operation is only needed in advanced cases involving leg ulcers if other techniques did not work. This procedure is performed on an outpatient basis.
2. Alternative Treatment
Alternative medicine is also available but patients should ask for their doctor’s advice before trying any herb or dietary supplement that might affect or interfere with any medication. Here are some of the alternative therapies that claim to be helpful treatments:
- Butcher’s broom
- Sweet clover
- Grape (leaves, sap, seed, and fruit)
- Horse chestnut