What Are Varicose Veins? Everything You Need to Know
What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are a common medical condition affecting millions of people worldwide. It occurs when the veins become enlarged and twisted, often appearing as bulging, blue or dark purple cords on the legs. Varicose veins are caused by weakened or damaged valves within the veins—these valves normally work to keep blood flowing in one direction. When these valves fail, blood can back up and pool in the veins, causing them to become enlarged.
People of any age can develop varicose veins, but it is more common in women and people over 50. It is also more likely to occur in people with a family history of the condition, those who are overweight, pregnant women, and people who spend a lot of time on their feet. Common symptoms of varicose veins can include aching, pain, feelings of heaviness, itching, and fatigue.
If you’re living with varicose veins, taking good care of your legs is important. Stay active, avoid standing for long periods, and take regular breaks to move your legs. You should also wear sunscreen, wear compression stockings and elevate your legs when resting. However, minimally invasive varicose vein treatments, such as endovenous ablation and ambulatory phlebectomy, are the only way to treat varicose veins.
What’s the difference between varicose veins and spider veins?
Varicose veins and spider veins both reflect a problem within the circulatory system of our bodies. Both often occur in the legs but can occur in other parts of the body too. A key difference between these two conditions is the severity of the problem.
Varicose veins occur when the valves within the veins that normally keep the blood flowing toward the heart become weak or damaged. This causes the blood to pool and stretch the vein, causing it to become thick, bulging, and twisted. Over time, the vein will become progressively more swollen and visible from the outside. The veins may sometimes become painful, itchy, and discolored.
On the other hand, spider veins are caused by similar valve damage and constricted blood flow but on a more minor scale. They often resemble webs or spiders, hence the name, and usually appear in clusters. They tend to be red, purple, or blue and appear near the skin’s surface. Unlike varicose veins, they are not swollen or raised and cause little, if any, discomfort.
What’s the root cause of varicose veins?
Varicose veins are swollen, twisted, and painful veins that are usually visible on the surface of the legs and feet. They are a common problem and can be caused by various factors. The root cause of varicose veins is usually chronic venous insufficiency.
Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) occurs when the veins cannot return enough blood from the legs and feet to the heart. This is caused by faulty valves in the veins, which normally act like a one-way street, allowing blood to flow in one direction only. When the valves become weak or damaged, the blood can flow in both directions and pool in the legs, leading to swelling and varicose veins.
The most common cause of venous insufficiency, the underlying root cause of varicose veins, is aging. However, other risk factors include obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, lack of movement, and genetics. One-time events, such as a trauma or injury, can also damage veins and increase the risk of vein disease. In pregnant women, hormonal changes and the extra weight of the baby pushing down on the veins can also be a factor.
If you have any of the above risk factors, you should monitor your veins for any signs of varicose veins. In many cases, early detection and treatment can avoid more serious complications. Treatments range from lifestyle modifications and compression stockings to minimally invasive treatments, such as endovenous laser ablation, radiofrequency ablation, ambulatory phlebectomy, and sclerotherapy.
How to diagnose varicose veins?
In many cases, a simple physical exam can identify the varicose veins. The doctor will use their hands to feel around the area and ask questions regarding any specific symptoms associated with the varicose veins. In some cases, the doctor may order a duplex ultrasound, a non-invasive imaging technique used to view the location of veins to evaluate for any valves that might cause swelling and vascular dilation. The ultrasound uses sound waves to create detailed images of the veins, so the doctor can assess the severity of the varicose veins.
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What’s the best treatment for varicose veins?
Varicose veins can be an unsightly and uncomfortable condition, but several treatments are available to help manage it. Depending on the severity of the condition, different treatments may be more appropriate. Here are four possible treatments:
- Compression Stockings: Compression stockings are a simple, non-invasive treatment that helps reduce pain and swelling associated with varicose veins. The stockings apply pressure to the affected area, helping to increase circulation and reduce strain on the veins.
- Endovenous Laser Ablation: Endovenous laser ablation is a minimally invasive procedure that can be performed in the doctor’s office. During the procedure, a laser fiber is inserted into the affected vein, and the laser energy is used to close off the vein. This results in improved circulation and reduced pain.
- Ambulatory Phlebectomy: This procedure involves surgically removing the affected veins. It is usually performed in an outpatient setting and requires only a local anesthetic.
- Sclerotherapy: This procedure involves injecting a sclerosant solution into the affected vein, causing it to collapse and fade away. This treatment is suitable for small varicose veins and spider veins.
New York Vein Treatment is a group of state-of-the-art medical centers for vein treatment in New York. Our offices are led by board-certified, Harvard-trained vein specialists who use cutting-edge diagnostic techniques to identify the root cause of varicose veins and curate a personalized treatment plan consisting of lifestyle changes, compression stockings, and minimally invasive varicose vein treatments.
You can find our medical centers for vein treatment in Midtown Manhattan and the Financial District. Please schedule an appointment to explore your varicose vein treatments in New York.
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She has extensive experience with vein performing procedures based on New York City.
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