Half of all American women and almost half of American men suffer from some form of vein problem. Although many people suffer from this medical issue, most do not understand it. What exactly are varicose veins?
First, it’s important to understand that the vascular system is a huge network of veins, arteries and capillaries with the heart at the very center. Oxygen and nutrient rich blood is transported by the arteries, and is delivered back to the heart through the veins. Blood-flow in the veins must move upwards, against the force of gravity. To deal with this, the veins have a series of one-way valves that open and close to allow the blood to flow upwards. When these valves are weak or broken blood pools in the legs causing varicose veins. This condition is known as venous insufficiency.
Varicose Vein Symptoms
Varicose veins usually occur closer to the surface of the skin and are often found on the back of the calf or on the inside of the leg. Symptoms typically include:
- Leg vein pain.
- A feeling of heaviness, tiredness, and aching, especially at the end of the day or after periods of prolonged standing.
- Swelling of the feet and ankles (due to stagnant blood leaking through the walls of the veins into surrounding tissues).
- Continual itching of the skin above the vein.
- Changes in skin color.
- The development of nonhealing ulcers at the ankles.
- Varicose veins often get worse over time, and because they are related to blood flow, can cause significant complications including skin ulcers that don’t heal and blood clots known as DVT (deep vein thrombosis).
What Causes Varicose Veins?
The cause of varicose veins is typically weak valves in the veins. One-way valves in the veins keep blood from flowing backwards as your leg muscles pump blood through the veins toward the heart. When these valves fail, blood pools in the veins, causing them to enlarge. Common causes of varicose veins include injury, age, hormone changes, pregnancy, obesity, and lack of exercise.
Varicose Vein Treatments
At Horizon Vascular Specialists, our varicose vein treatment programs are customized to each patient and take into consideration all important factors. Our non-surgical treatment options include:
Also known as VNUS Closure, this proven four step procedure offers our patients a treatment option with an extremely high success rate and little-to-no patient discomfort during the process. This minimally invasive procedure involves the insertion of a catheter into the varicose vein, which then emits a radiofrequency energy that heats the vein wall causing it to contract and ‘close’ the vein.
Please click here to learn more about Radiofrequency Ablation.
Patients suffering from varicose veins can opt for this quick (typically lasting 15 to 45 minutes) treatment option. With this ultra-sound guided treatment, we inject a solution into your varicose veins which causes the vein to swell, stick together and the blood to clot. The vessel will eventually form into scar tissue and disappear.
Please click here to learn more about Sclerotherapy.
Varicose Vein Surgery
Laser surgery for varicose veins is a viable treatment option for some patients. Your surgeon uses a laser to close the vein by creating a small scar tissue. Once the vein is closed, it dies. The vein typically disappears altogether in 1-2 years.
For small varicose veins, simple laser vein treatment may be appropriate. Your surgeon may recommend laser treatment sessions ever 6-12 weeks. Larger veins may require a form of vein laser surgery known as endovenous laser.
Your doctor may recommend compression stockings for varicose veins to stimulate blood flow. Compression stockings squeeze the legs throughout the day, helping your circulatory system move blood more efficiently. Using compression stockings is often a first-step treatment designed to avoid varicose vein surgery and other treatments.
How to Prevent Varicose Veins
While preventing varicose veins isn’t possible 100 percent of the time, there are ways you can reduce your risk of getting varicose veins. Luckily, many of the best practices for varicose vein prevention can also ease the pain associated with varicose veins. Best practices include:
- Exercise regularly to improve circulation.
- Manage your weight to minimize pressure on your legs.
- Wear sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun.
- Don’t cross your legs for long times when sitting.
- Elevate your legs when resting.
- Don’t stand or sit for long periods of time. Move around every 30 minutes.
- Eat a diet rich in fiber to reduce the chances of constipation.
- Minimize salt intake to reduce swelling.
- Wear support stockings or compression stockings.
- Avoid tight clothing that constricts your waist, groin, or legs.
Your first step in relieving painful varicose veins is a consultation with our vascular specialists.