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Varicose Veins: All you need to know

Varicose veins develop when the veins immediately beneath the skin's surface become damaged, enlarged, and overfilled with blood.

The blood channels that return blood to the heart are known as veins. Oxygen-rich blood is pumped from the heart through arteries to the rest of the body.

The legs are the most prevalent site for varicose veins. In approximately half of the instances, the problem runs in families and is most likely caused by a hereditary weakening in the walls of veins or the valves that protect the blood from backing up within veins.

Varicose veins are also commonly caused during pregnancy. The amount of blood in the body increases during pregnancy, causing veins to dilate. Additionally, jobs that demand continuous standing (waitresses and waiters, nurses, mothers with young children) may force leg veins and valves to operate against gravity for long periods, increasing the risk of vein and valve damage due to pressure. Garters can potentially raise the risk of varicose veins by slowing blood flow in the legs due to their tight elastics.

Women are 2 to 3 times as likely as males to have varicose veins. Varicose veins are more common in obese persons.

Prior blood clots and damage to the deeper veins in one or both legs can cause varicose veins, which can occasionally progress to chronic venous insufficiency. Veins lose their capacity to properly transport blood back to the heart when this happens. This might result in severe limb oedema as well as skin blisters or ulcers.

Varicose veins are most often located on the inside of the leg, near the ankles, and in the back of the calf. Veins that have been impacted appear blue, bloated, stretched out, kinked, or twisted.

Symptoms

Varicose veins might be asymptomatic in some persons. Others, on the other hand, may encounter one or more of the following:

Legs pain.

A sensation of heaviness or pressure in the legs.

Swollen ankles and feet.

Itchy skin around the veins that have been damaged.

A decrease of blood flow through the vein in more severe cases of chronic venous insufficiency can cause localized skin changes such as dryness, a rash or brownish discolouration, and open sores (ulcers). A clot might develop inside the afflicted vein due to poor blood flow. Thrombosis is the medical term for this disease.

Varicose vein symptoms are generally worst towards the end of the day, especially after long hours of standing. Some women also report that their symptoms are more severe in the days leading up to and during their menstrual cycles, as well as during pregnancy.

Diagnosis

Your doctor will inquire about your symptoms as well as any family members who have had varicose veins. He or she will also inquire about your lifestyle, particularly the number of hours you spend standing. If you're a woman, your doctor will ask about your previous pregnancies and the tightness of your socks or stockings.

A simple physical examination might help your doctor detect varicose veins. In the vast majority of situations, no additional testing is required.

Expected Timeframe of improvement

Varicose veins are a long-term issue with sporadic symptoms. If you're pregnant and have severe varicose veins, your symptoms will lessen after you give birth. However, your varicose veins are unlikely to go away completely, and you can anticipate symptoms to reappear with subsequent pregnancies.

Prevention

Maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding circumstances where you must stand for lengthy amounts of time will help prevent varicose veins. Even if you take these precautions, you may still get varicose veins if the problem runs in your family.

If you already have varicose veins, you can avoid symptom flare-ups by resting or sitting with your legs elevated above your chest regularly. When you walk or stand for lengthy periods, some doctors advocate wearing support stockings or more specialized compression stockings.

RELATED ARTICLE: WHY ARE WOMEN MORE LIKELY TO SUFFER FROM PAIN CONDITIONS?

Treatment options for most persons with minor varicose vein symptoms include:

Throughout the day, elevate and support your legs as needed.

Compression stockings are worn.

Dermatologists or vascular surgeons may recommend sclerotherapy or laser therapy for varicose veins that are close to the skin. Sclerotherapy is a procedure that includes injecting an irritating substance into the afflicted vein, causing it to scar and close. Even the tiniest varicose veins can be treated with laser treatment.

Recurrent blood clots and skin ulcers can occur in people with severe venous insufficiency. Vein stripping and ligation is the usual procedure. The aberrant veins are tied up and dragged out of the body through a series of tiny incisions in the skin during this surgical operation. Ambulatory phlebectomy is a surgical technique that removes veins through tiny skin incisions, although it is less invasive than traditional stripping and ligation.

Endovenous thermal ablation and transilluminated power phlebotomy are two newer treatments (a modified form of ambulatory phlebotomy). Endovenous thermal ablation heats aberrant veins with laser or high-frequency radio waves. These latest treatments appear to leave fewer scars and need less recovery time.

External laser treatment is generally used to remove tiny, superficial spider veins for aesthetic reasons.

A catheter is introduced into the vein (A) through a tiny incision in the skin after the varicose vein has been identified with ultrasonography. The catheter heats the venous wall with either laser or radiofrequency radiation, causing the vein to collapse. As the catheter is removed, the vein closes (B).

When should you visit the doctor?

If you have discomfort, swelling, skin ulcers, or an unexplained region of bruises on your legs, call your doctor. A blood clot can produce new limb swelling, especially in only one leg, which requires urgent treatment.

If you have varicose veins, call your doctor right away if you have an ulcer or a painful, black and blue region near a varicose vein, or if you cut the skin over a varicose vein and can't stop the bleeding.

Varicose veins are a chronic condition, but their symptoms may typically be managed with leg elevation and therapeutic stockings.

Surgical treatments permanently remove varicose veins, however, they leave scars and do not prevent the formation of new varicose veins.

Disclaimer:

No content on this site, regardless of date, should be used to replace direct medical advice from your doctor or another trained practitioner.

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