Varicose veins are twisted swollen veins that are visible through your skin. These bulging veins are commonly found on your legs because of standing and walking increases the pressure on the veins in your lower body. While most varicose veins are a cosmetic issue, you might experience serious health problems from your varicose veins and end up needing treatment.
How do Varicose Veins Form
All the veins in your body form a one-way traffic network so your blood can travel to your heart. These veins have valves that keep blood from backing up and pooling in the vein. The valves allow the blood flow to keep going towards the heart until this blood flow returns from the heart, and the process starts over again.
When these valves fail to open and close properly, your blood begins to back up in the vein. Over time this blood backup causes a knotty appearance to the vein and weakens the walls of the vein making the veins bulge outward. This blood backup may turn the skin in the area a bluish or purplish color.
Signs and Symptoms of Varicose Veins
Most of the tiny broken veins on your body are harmless and present no immediate medical intervention. However, these small broken veins, known as spider veins, can be a sign for poor circulation and present a risk for future unsightly varicosities.
Your legs may start to feel heavy, weak, and painful. You could experience muscle cramping, swelling in the lower legs, burning, or throbbing. If you sit or stand for long periods, you may notice worsening discomfort. You might also experience itching around the affected vein. Also, as the vein worsens, you will see a skin discoloration around the vein.
When to Seek Treatment and Your Treatment Options
If you have varicose veins that aren’t causing you any health concerns, there are some non-invasive options. Some things you can do include:
- Wear compression Stockings daily to help blood circulate through the veins in your legs. Make sure to remove the stockings before going to bed.
- Avoid long periods of standing and sitting
- Rest your body by standing up and walking after sitting for periods of time
- If you’re standing for long periods, take a minute or two to sit with your feet and legs elevated.
If your varicose veins are causing you more serious health complications, you might need to seek more invasive treatment. Some serious health complications to be aware of include:
- Ulcers: If your skin becomes flakey, discolored, and painful near your varicose vein, you could be developing stasis dermatitis. If left untreated, it can lead to chronic leg and skin infections.
- Blood Clots: If your varicose vein becomes red, warm, and tender, it could be a sign of phlebitis, which is caused by a blood clot in your vein. Call your doctor right away if this occurs
- Bleeding: Sometimes, the vein is close to the skin and can bursts. To control the bleeding, you should apply direct compression and elevate your leg. Usually, the bleeding is minor, but you should speak to a specialist if you are concerned, it could lead to potentially serious complications.
If you are suffering from any of these, then you should speak to your doctor about more invasive treatment options or clinical trials for varicose veins. Some possible treatment your doctor could recommend:
- Sclerotherapy or injections: A foam or solution is injected into the damaged vein causing it to collapse.
- Laser Treatment: Small bursts of light are directed onto the vein, which will cause it to fade and eventually disappear.
- Phlebectomy: Your doctor will use a small light to guide them to where the damaged vein is. The doctor then uses a small cut near the damaged vein and removes it.
- Ablation: Using radiofrequency energy or laser energy. This procedure uses intense heat to treat the vein. The doctor punctures the vein, threads a microscopic tube through the vein, sending intense heat into the area. The heat closes off and destroys the vein. Over time the vein will disappear.
The bottom line is that varicose veins, no matter how insignificant they seem at the time, can quickly become serious and need immediate attention. Take care of your varicose veins so you won’t have to deal with more serious vein issues in the future.