Varicose Veins Overview
What Are Varicose Veins?
Blood collects oxygen from the lungs and travels to the heart, where it’s then pumped throughout the body to deliver oxygen to our cells. Once deoxygenated, blood returns to the heart via the veins in our legs. Sometimes that upward transit malfunctions, due to weakened valves that fail to close. This creates elevated pressure in the superficial (surface) veins which causes varicosities, or varicose veins. Studies have shown that varicose Veins occur in roughly 25% of adults, affecting more women than men.
- Varicosities can develop in any vein but are most common in the legs since standing and walking increase venous pressure.
- The underlying disease that often causes varicose veins is called chronic venous insufficiency.
- Varicose veins have a tell-tale twisted (tortuous) appearance, bulging at the surface of the skin in a bluish-purple or red hue.
- Family history is the top predictor of varicose vein development. Other risk factors include pregnancy, aging, weight gain, and excessive sitting or standing on the job.
- Treating varicose veins not only eliminates symptoms but also puts less stress on the heart, improves your appearance and prevents serious complications. Varicose vein treatment options include minimally invasive procedures with no downtime.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
A common condition called venous insufficiency is the usual cause of varicose veins. Leg veins rely on valves that close to pump blood toward the heart and prevent accumulation or retrograde flow of blood toward the feet. Whеn thеѕе valves weaken or break, blood may not return to the heart as efficiently as it should. As a result, the veins swell and bulge, twisting to accommodate the excess blood. Leg veins have to work against the gravitational pull, making them more prone to varicosities than other blood vessels in the body.
What Are The Symptoms Of Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are often asymptomatic, but here are some common symptoms:
- Twisted, bulging, large veins
- Leg heaviness, particularly at night
- Restless legs syndrome
- Swelling in the lower extremities
- Fatty deposits beneath the skin (Lipodermatosclerosis)
- Spider veins (Telangiectasias) at the same location
- Dry, red, itchy skin (called venous eczema or stasis dermatitis)
- Achiness or cramping in the legs
Who Is Affected By Varicose Veins?
Varicosities develop for various reasons in people of all ages. A family history of varicose veins is a predisposition to develop varicose veins at any age. A job that demands extensive sitting or standing can also contribute to developing varicose veins. They are more common in women but can affect men as well.
Varicose Vein Treatments:
Multiple effective treatment options exist for patients with varicose veins. The best method of treatment depends on the patient’s unique venous composition and medical history. The severity and location of your varicosity, as well as any symptoms and skin changes, help your doctor determine the best course of action.
Potential Treatments Include:
- Ultra minimally invasive treatment
- Ablаtіоn (also known as Vessel Ablation or Radiofrequency Ablation): employing radiofrequency, laser, or heat right into the affected vein. This closes the vein. Once the vein is closed, less blood pools in the leg which improves overall blood flow
- Surgеrу: stripping or pulling the veins out surgically, known as “phlebectomy”
- Sclerotherapy: injecting liquid or foam into the damaged vessel to destroy it
NOTE: Vessel or Radiofrequency Ablation remains one of the best options for most patients with vаrісоѕе vеіnѕ.
Is Varicose Vein Treatment Safe?
When performed by our board-certified vein doctors, varicose vein treatment is safe and easy for most patients. With the use of minimally invasive therapy, we vastly improve the safety profile of vein treatments. While vein treatment is safer than ever, it’s still essential to seek treatment from a trained vein doctor who customizes treatment for each patient.
How Do Doctors Diagnose Venous Insufficiency and Varicose Veins?
To properly treat varicose veins and venous insufficiency, a thorough physical exam and medical history are required. Your provider should ask about any symptoms you have and listen closely to your concerns. They will also ask about your treatment goals and preferences. Your provider must check for venous insufficiency if they suspect it’s the cause of your varicose veins, and this includes the use of ultrasound. With a thorough investigation, your doctor will be able to identify varicosities, and connections between damaged veins and healthy veins to prevent complications.