Varicose Veins: Causes and Treatments

Who doesn’t hate that moment when we notice that purple vein-y looking thing that shows up on our leg.  Even though they are extremely common, varicose veins are annoying and not great to look at.  There are many causes for this annoying little problem but there are treatments as well.

Varicose veins are larger than spider veins.  Varicose veins are a raised, swollen blood vessel. Spider Veins are a red, purplish blue vessel.  Both are vessels that twist and turn and are visible through the skin.

What Causes Varicose Veins?

There are many predispose factors that can cause varicose veins.

  • Occupations involve a lot of standing for long periods of time.
  • Heredity
  • Hormonal influences due to pregnancy, puberty, and menopause.
  • Obesity
  • Birth control pills
  • Girdles
  • Hormone replacement post-menopause

Veins allow for blood to be carried throughout the body.  Veins have valves that are one way, preventing the blood from flowing backward. When the vein becomes stretched, less flexible.   The valve is weakened, allowing blood to flow in the opposite direction.  Blood then accumulates in the vein causing it to become enlarged and swollen.

Veins that are furthest from the heart are more likely to become affected.  Gravity makes it more difficult for the blood to flow back to the heart, which is why varicose veins happen mostly in the legs.  However, there are conditions that puts pressure on the abdomen and cause varicose veins.   Conditions like pregnancy or constipation, but also in rare cases like tumors.

What Are My Treatment Options for Varicose Veins?

When symptoms or pain are not severe, there are a few treatments you can do at home.  Exercise and losing weight are two ways you can prevent varicose veins.  You can also avoid prolonged standing or sitting.  Unfortunately, occupations that demands standing for long periods of time or sitting, it is recommended to elevate your legs at home or use compression stockings.

Compression stockings squeeze your legs and improve circulation.  Compression stockings have been known to also help with the discomfort and pain reported with having varicose veins.  However, some people reported that the stockings made their skin dry and flaky.  Talk to your doctor if this happens.

Surgery is another treatment to treating varicose veins.  If the veins are large enough, surgically removing them may be needed.  Generally, surgery is done same day.

However, if the veins are small, laser treatment is an option.  Small light burst are applied to the vein.  The varicose vein then gradually fades and disappears.

Radiofrequency Ablation is also an option for treating varicose veins.  It is a minimally invasive treatment for varicose veins.  This treatment uses radiofrequency energy to heat up the vein.  It damages the wall inside the vein but is usually closes the varicose vein in the leg.  The radiofrequency energy is directed through a catheter which is inserted through a small incision in the vein.  This treatment is easily done and recovery time is short.

Even though experts are not exactly sure why varicose veins happen, there are many treatments.  When exercise and losing weight are not enough, talking with your doctor about different options may be needed.


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