Varicose Veins Overview
What Are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are a common health issue, impacting nearly a third of adults in the United States. Women are more susceptible to these damaged blood vessels, since hormones and pregnancy often play a role. The bulging and twisting of these once healthy vessels stem from faulty valves in the veins that inhibit blood from flowing toward the heart. The venous pressure caused by disrupted blood flow creates these varicosities.
- Varicose veins are the result of circulatory problems, most commonly, the disease called chronic venous insufficiency.
- A varicose vein has a distinctive enlarged, twisted, or bulging shape, which appears red, blue, or purple.
- Most patients develop varicose veins in their legs, since leg veins must work against gravity to pump blood upward which is difficult when standing or sitting for long periods of time. However, varicosities can form anywhere in the body.
- Elevated pressure in blood vessels causes the distortion of varicose veins. Things that contribute to the excess pressure are sitting or standing frequently for work (desk jobs, commercial driving, teaching, nursing), gaining weight, pregnancy, and aging. In addition, a family history of varicosities is a good indicator of your susceptiblety.
- Varicose veins respond best to minimally invasive procedures and lifestyle adjustments that eliminate discomfort and complications and enhance appearance. Invasive surgery and downtime are rarely necessary to treat varicose veins.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
One-way valves in the leg veins are responsible for facilitating upward transit of blood to the heart. When these valves weaken or fail, blood collects and leaks backward. Our veins can no longer transport the blood efficiently, nor can they support the additional pressure caused by pooling blood. This creates a chronic problem called venous insufficiency. Since leg veins must move blood from the feet, all the way up to the heart and lungs, they’re most prone to varicosity. As pressure increases against venous walls, the veins begin to bulge, swell, and contort, creating a twisted (tortuous) shape. Leg injuries and blood clots can also break these valves, contributing to varicosities. Some patients will also develop varicose veins as a result of phlebitis (inflammation) or venous abnormalities they are born with.
What Are the Symptoms of Varicose Veins?
Some patients have no symptoms, but others experience these signs of vascular disease:
- Enlarged, bulging veins with a twisted shape
- Swelling and achiness in the legs and ankles
- A heavy feeling in the legs that worsens at night
- Development of spider veins near the varicosity
- Hardened fat deposits near the skin’s surface (lіроdеrmаtоѕсlеrоѕіѕ)
- Blue or brown-colored skin on the calves and ankles
- Itchy skin (venous eczema) or leg ulcers that are slow to heal
- Tightness and cramping in calves, especially when walking
- Reѕtlеѕѕ legs, particularly when seated or lying down
Who Is Affected By Varicose Veins?
Varicose vеіnѕ are not relegated to a particular age group or gender. If varicose veins run in your family, you are more likely to develop them. In addition, those whose profession requires lengthy periods of sitting or standing are at greater risk. However, they are more prevalent in men after age 50, and in women subsequent to pregnancy or menopause.
Varicose Vein Treatments:
Today, there are multiple treatment options for vаrісоѕе veins. The right solution for you is best determined by our vein specialists in California who assess your individual condition. Features including the size, symptoms, and skin issues (ulcers, itching, discoloration) impact the doctor’s decision regarding treatment.
Potential Treatments Include:
- Sclerotherapy: injecting a sclerosant liquid or foam to close the vein
- Ablаtіоn: applying laser or thermal energy like radiofrequency to eliminate diseased veins.
- Elevation of legs over the heart while at rest
- Support ѕtосkіngѕ for compression
- Surgеrу: phlebectomy (surgically stripping the veins from the body)
NOTE: Most qualified vein doctors choose sclerotherapy and radiofrequency ablation over other methods for spider veins.
Is Varicose Vein Treatment Safe?
Varicose vein treatment is safe when administered by a qualified physician. The latest minimally invasive treatments offer fast and convenient resolution of varicose veins with low risk to the majority of patients. However, choosing a highly trained doctor is important to avoid complications like pain or embolism that unaccredited vein centers might cause. The doctors at California Vein Center have the highest training and conduct a thorough analysis of your veins for the safest results.
How Do Doctors Diagnose Venous Insufficiency and Varicose Veins?
A proper diagnosis begins with physical examination of your veins and an analysis of your symptoms and medical history. A qualified vein specialist will also inquire about your goals for treatment, listening to your preferences and concerns. Trained vein experts will implement tools like duplex ultrasound scans to identify blood clots, damaged valves, and problematic blood vessel connections if needed to detect venous insufficiency. The doctors at California Vein Center always provide a clear and conclusive diagnosis.