Varicose veins are not usually life threatening; but they can affect a sufferer's quality of life. Those with varicose veins begin to cover their legs up more, staying away from swimsuits and trousers and even becoming very protective of their legs as the enlarged veins can bleed profusely and bruise badly if bumped.
Varicose veins can cause discomfort, itching and aching, especially after the patient has been standing for long periods of time. As society becomes more image conscious, more and more sufferers are taking steps to treat or eradicate these ugly, rope-like veins from their legs. Varicose veins are caused by poor circulation and faulty valves in the vessels that return blood up the legs to the body. Blood gathers in the veins, first causing spider veins, which can then worsen into varicose veins which protrude above the skin surface and form spongy bulges. Sometimes a clot or thrombosis can form in the area, which makes the varicose vein hard to the touch and tender or painful.
Treatment begins with natural remedies, such as lying with the legs elevated to encourage the blood to flow out of the vein and reduce the pressure on the valves. Walking is excellent exercise and boosts circulation with every step: therapy that everyone can prescribe for themselves! Support hose is also useful and comes in a variety of 'strengths' from over the counter pressure stockings to those that must only be fitted by a health professional to be sure that only the requisite area receives the pressure.
Sclerotherapy is a relatively quick process that involves a foaming fluid being injected into the vein to close it up. Support stockings must be worn after this process, and an average of three treatments is necessary for most patients. Severe or very big varicose veins cannot be treated this way as they tend to be larger veins which have a faster blood flow, which can result in the fluid being swept away before it can have an effect. Sometimes ultrasound examination will find that a minor problem on the surface is actually one of the symptoms pointing to a bigger problem deeper under the skin that needs to be tackled before the superficial blemishes can be eradicated.
Traditional surgery works well, even on very bad varicose veins, but the treatment can be painful and takes a good amount of recovery time. A wire is inserted into the vein, running from ankle to groin and the offending vein is stripped out. This necessitates severing the connection of the vessel to the smaller veins and arteries around it – a sometimes painful process to recover from.
Laser and radio frequency treatments are much less invasive and work to shrink or seal off the vein. With these processes the patient can leave the clinic or care centre the same day, and be back to regular activities in less than a week.
- Varicose veins are caused by faulty valves and poor circulation.
- They are not life threatening but can cause discomfort and pain, loss of self-confidence and interfere with activities and hobbies.
- Varicose veins are bigger and more prominent than spider veins.
- Treatments include exercise, pressure hose, surgery and laser or radio frequency therapy.