What Women Should Know About Varicose Veins
About twenty percent of women have varicose veins, and most everyone has a spider vein or two. While you may not like the way they look, these bluish, lumpy intrusions are usually harmless. However, for many women, they can be painful and dangerous.
Do you despise of shorts weather because you’ve got unsightly leg veins? Vein issues are some of the most common chronic conditions in North America. Luckily, armed with the right intel, you can learn how to prevent them, live with them, and even get rid of ’em. Here’s what women need to know about variouse veins.
All leg veins are not the same.
Varicose veins are bulging, ropy veins that can cause a pain and require treatment..
Veins are thin-walled vascular structures with valves that keep blood flowing in one direction: toward the heart. Varicose veins form when valves deteriorate, allowing blood to flow downhill and pool in the leg.Veins can lose their elasticity, and when they lose their elasticity, they dilate. Veins have valves whose purpose is to keep the blood moving from your foot back to your heart. Valves go bad, the blood goes in reverse and this leads to varicose veins.
What many people identify as varicose veins are actually spider veins, it’s smaller, tubular blood vessels that occur in treelike, spiderweb and starburst patterns.
Spider veins are smaller than varicose veins and dont usually cause symptoms, but many women treat them for cosmetic reasons. True varicose veins are bulging, ropy, snaky, abnormal-looking veins that are usually visible to the eye (unless a patient is significantly obese) and often cause painful symptoms. The key to medical management of varicose veins is determining which are likely to cause serious health problems requiring intervention and which can be treated conservatively.
Lifestyle Changes Can Slash Your Risk
There are many risk factors that are out of our control, but we can do our part to decrease our chance of varicose veins by maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding prolonged periods of standing or sitting. Experts also recommend avoiding clothes that feel tight on your waist or upper thighs and wearing high heels for long periods, both of which can impact adequate circulation. So basically, you just got a pass to rock those yoga pants and Birkenstocks.
You’ll probably need an ultrasound.
If you have concerns about your veins or painful symptoms, you should go to a doctor who specializes in the treatment of vascular problems and get an ultrasound to explore how well your veins are functioning.
If we identify valve dysfunction that is associated with significant leg symptoms, that generally should be corrected if possible. So once we get those tests, we can counsel the patient on the entire picture of what’s causing the vein problems.
The ultrasound also can help determine whether the vein should be treated surgically, managed medically or left alone, Insurance companies and Medicare sometimes cover the ultrasound.
Plenty of treatment options are available.
Years ago, varicose vein treatment meant patients had to go under anesthesia in an operating room, but today most procedures are done in the doctor’s office under local anesthesia and with a light sedative. Treatment usually lasts one hour, and you are active the next day.
Three treatment options are available for large varicose veins, it calls the ropy veins.
The first treatment, called radiofrequency ablation or laser ablation, involves using a catheter to numb the leg and then heat the vein until it’s closed. Local anesthesia is used around the vein to prevent nerve damage and burning the skin.
This can be done with no surgical incisions, just a small catheter to gain access into the vein, and that allows us to close it.
The type of treatment selected depends on the patient’s anatomy.
While these treatments are medically necessary because the affected veins usually have an underlying valve problem, there are other options for veins that are treated for cosmetic reasons.
If it’s all in the little spidery bluish things you see, which are called superficial veins, then typically those problems can be treated with laser or other methods to close the vein that has the abnormal valve in it.
Using a vein light to illuminate the skin, the physician finds the vein and uses a tiny needle to inject foam into it. This makes the vein collapse. The collapsed vein is reabsorbed into surrounding tissue and eventually fades.
Some symptoms shouldn’t be ignored.
It is important to seek medical treatment immediately if you experience:
Hyperpigmentation of the lower leg and ankle, meaning skin patches become darker than the normal surrounding skin. Thickening and hardening of the skin in the same area that may itch and look red and scaly, similar to eczema. A skin ulcer, which is a sore that appears red and may drain fluid or pus and is not caused by an injury These would be the most severe symptoms where urgent attention is needed. Sometimes you develop varicose veins because you had a deep vein clot.
This is called deep vein thrombosis, and it can cause leg pain or swelling. It also can occur with no symptoms. The most reliable symptom is calf swelling in one leg. Contact doctor immediately if you have a pain in your leg that starts in your calf and feels like cramping or soreness, if you have red or discolored skin or if your leg feels warm when you touch it. Deep vein thrombosis can be danger because blood clots can break off and travel to your lungs. Most varicose veins are not related to deep vein thrombosis.
The following symptoms are not urgent or life-threatening, but recommend to see a doctor if you experience:
Muscle cramping and restless legs at night
Achy, heavy legs that are typically relieved when elevated for at least fifteen minutes
Unexplained swelling in the lower leg and around the ankle
Burning, throbbing sensation over an enlarged vein
Any varicose vein that bleeds
Cutera, uses a laser to destroy the vein.
Doctor use that when the veins are so small that you can’t get into them with a needle.
All these procedures require wearing compression hose for about a week afterward. While veins treated for medical reasons are generally covered by insurance, veins removed for cosmetic reasons are not.
Veins may be inevitable, but diet and exercise can help.
Spider and varicose veins are common, Particularly as we age, most of us will have some veins that are visible or look abnormal.
Experts don’t know exactly what causes varicose veins, but there are known risk factors, including obesity, genetics and working a job that requires continuous standing.
There’s a very strong genetic predisposition to varicose veins,. So if your mother at age 50 had to have her veins fixed and you are worried about what’s going to happen to you, preventive measures are weight control, exercise even just trying to walk 30 minutes a day and try to avoid standing or sitting particularly in one position for long times. Also, wear a low-compression support hose (20-30 millimeters).
Heredity Is the Largest Risk Factor
While there are many factors that can increase your chance of getting varicose veins, genetics is numero uno It is by far a genetic problem with more than 70 to 80 percent of patients with varicose veins having a relative with varicose veins. Other risk factors include being a woman (sweet), obesity, aging, and pregnancy (that’s because you produce up to 50 percent more blood to support the fetus).
Veins that spring up during pregnancy may go away on their own.
Varicose veins often are triggered by pregnancy. Circulating blood volume goes up to take care of the baby, and the hormonal changes cause dilatation or stretching of veins.
Wait three to six months after you deliver your baby to seek treatment for pregnancy-related veins, because they often regress and will not need treatment.
Varicose Veins Can Be a Cosmetic Issue, a Health Issue, or Both
Though some might be bothered just by the appearance of varicose veins, others may actually feel discomfort. The main symptoms are heaviness, aching, tightness, fatigue, tiredness, swelling and often itching, burning, numbness, cramping, and restless legs,. Not all varicose veins require treatment, but you should definitely see a doctor if your veins have become swollen and tender, have created sores on your skin, are interfering with your daily activities, or if one begins to bleed. Left untreated and ignored over time, there can be marked skin changes in the legs and poor vascular health that can lead to non-healing ulcers or wounds and even blood clots,.
Varicose Veins Are Caused by Weak Valves
This is a quick science lesson: Arteries and capillaries deliver oxygen-rich blood from your heart to the rest of your body, while veins return the blood back to your heart. Here’s the rub: The veins in your legs have to work harder to do this since they are pumping against gravity. Valves are designed to be one-way only, but if the valves are weak or get damaged, they let blood flow backwards and pool in your veins, creating the bulge you see in varicose veins.
You Have Many Treatment Options
Though “vein stripping,” the surgical removal of varicose veins performed under general or local anesthesia, was once the norm, newer non-surgical treatments have become more popular. There are a few technical differences among the techniques, but in general, they are all effective in permanently closing the abnormal, diseased veins that are causing the problems,. The most common techniques are heat-based treatments where either radiofrequency energy or laser energy is used to seal off and destroy the vein which will dissolve into your body overtime.
The latest technique is VenaSeal, which uses an innovative medical-grade super glue to shut the damaged vein. VenaSeal closure has some additional benefits as it does not require large volumes of numbing medication, allows for a single needle entry, and most patients do not require post-operative compression. “In addition to reducing the chances of a nerve injury, multiple veins can be treated at the same time.”
If You’ve Had One, You’re Likely to Have More
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Having a faulty vein in one location does put the patient at risk for developing venous disease in other location, and venous regrowth is possible. That’s right while most treatments are effective at destroying a damaged vein, they can regrow.
Ready to get help for varicose veins? Start by contacting your primary care physician, who may recommend you head to a phlebolist (vein specialist), a vascular surgeon, or a dermatologist, depending on the type of treatment you need. Also, be sure to check with your insurance to see which types of specialists or treatments they might cover. Oftentimes insurance may cover some forms of treatments if your veins cause pain.
Varicose Veins Don’t Just Pop Up in Your Legs
While varicose veins are most commonly seen in the legs due to the natural pressure of body weight and gravity, different forms of varicose veins can be seen in other parts of the body. Telangiectasias and venom lakes are common on the face and neck, while spider veins can be found on various parts of the body. Even hemorrhoids enlarged veins around the anus are a type of varicose vein. All of these concerns are caused by pooling of blood in defective veins.