Varicose Veins: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments
Venous insufficiency can occur at any time to both men and women. Some people are initially concerned with the unsightly appearance of varicose veins, especially when the weather gets warmer and bare legs become more prevalent. Others may experience leg pain or discomfort as a result of varicose veins. If you think you may have varicose veins, here’s some information on the causes, symptoms and treatment options available. Please keep in mind, it’s important to see a vein doctor for an accurate assessment.
What are Varicose Veins?
As part of the circulatory process, veins contain tiny valves that open and close to help move blood upwards, towards the heart. When the valves become damaged or stop working, blood flow becomes difficult, if not impossible, and blood gets stuck in the vein and builds up. The buildup of blood stretches and enlarges the vein, making it varicose.
Even though any vein can become varicose, they occur most often in the lower legs, ankles and feet. Because of gravity, the lowest sections of the body require the hardest working valves. If people are inactive or overweight, or they sit or stand for long periods of time throughout the day, they are even more susceptible to getting varicose veins. Genetics and family history play major roles in the onset of varicose veins as well.
Varicose veins become problematic when they cause pain or discomfort. If left untreated, varicose veins may lead to other issues like ulcers, blood clots and bleeding. Ulcers are caused by the increased pressure the built-up blood puts on the surrounding tissues. Blood clots, also known as thrombophlebitis, are caused by the stagnant blood flow that results from the poorly functioning valves. Although uncommon, the stretched vein has a thinner wall and can rupture spontaneously, causing bruising or bleeding, especially if the vein is sitting close to the skin’s surface. The bleeding can be quite scary, causing many people to seek immediate medical attention.
Common symptoms of Varicose Veins
Symptoms of varicose veins can be visual, physical or both. The best way to find out if the symptoms you are experiencing are a result of venous insufficiency is to seek a professional’s help, A vein doctor can perform an ultrasound during your examination to observe blood flow in your veins and provide the information needed to make a proper diagnosis.
Symptoms of varicose veins may include:
- Veins that appear to be twisted or bulging, and may also be dark purple or blue in color
- An achy or heavy feeling in the legs
- Pain, swelling, itching, burning or cramping in the legs
- Bleeding veins, ulcers or skin inflammation
- Restless Legs Syndrome
If you’ve been diagnosed with varicose veins, there are several lifestyle changes you can make to help alleviate your symptoms. For example, make sure you exercise regularly, lose weight if needed (or maintain a healthy weight), and avoid standing or sitting for extensive periods of time.
Solutions for Varicose Veins
There are various treatment options for varicose veins. After your examination, your vein doctor will be able to recommend the one that’s best for you.
- VNUS ClosureFast
- Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT)
- VenaSeal™ Closure
- Ambulatory Phlebectomy
If you have additional questions regarding the causes, symptoms and treatments for venous insufficiency, please review these frequently asked questions about varicose veins or call to schedule a free consultation in Columbus, Ohio.