Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are on most people’s “things I don’t want” list.  They aren’t particularly attractive to look at, and can cause pain, swelling, itchiness and in some cases they can cause scarring and a reduced ability for your legs to heal from simple wounds.    Varicose veins are treatable, however, and your Dermatologist can offer relief and treatment for those suffering from this skin condition.

What are varicose veins?

Varicose veins occur when the valves occurring in the veins in our legs become defective. Small leaflet valves in our leg veins are there to keep the blood flowing toward the heart and not away. When the valve becomes defective the blood flows back into the vein and causes the veins to become enlarged and discolored. Affected veins are the reticular (larger) and telangiectasias (smaller or spider) veins.

What causes varicose veins?

Sadly, the main cause seems to be heredity. If your parents had them, you are more likely to get them as well.   Other factors that cause them include obesity, menopause, pregnancy and simple aging.  Also, long periods of standing, abdominal straining, or leg injury can be contributing factors.

What treatments are available?

Dermatologists can offer a number of treatments available to reduce or remove varicose veins, from the simple to the complex.
Mild varicose veins don’t require any treatment.   However, temporary treatment for early stage varicose veins can be achieved by:

  1. Compression stockings can help reduce swelling and increase circulaton.  You can buy compression stockings in most drug stores.
  2. Elevating the feet, which can temporarily relieve some of the symptoms.
  3. Lifestyle changes.  These changes can prevent varicose veins from getting worse, reduce pain, and delay other varicose veins from forming. Lifestyle changes include the following:
  • Avoid standing or sitting for long periods without taking a break. When sitting, avoid crossing your legs. Raise your legs when sitting, resting, or sleeping. When you can, raise your legs above the level of your heart.
  • · Do physical activities to get your legs moving and improve muscle tone. This helps blood move through your veins.
  • If you’re overweight or obese, lose weight. This will improve blood flow and ease the pressure on your veins.
  • Avoid wearing tight clothes, especially those that are tight around your waist, groin (upper thighs), and legs. Tight clothes can make varicose veins worse.
  • Avoid wearing high heels for long periods. Lower heeled shoes can help tone your calf muscles. Toned muscles help blood move through the veins.

As you may expect though, these cures may only provide temporary relief of symptoms.  For more permanent treatment of varicose veins, there are other treatments both surgical and non-surgical.

Non-surgical

Non-surgical options for the treatment of varicose veins include sclerotherapy, which involves injecting medicine in the veins to reduce their size or endovenous laser treatment which is the use of lasers to reduce the size of the veins.  Sclerotherapy is usually performed in a doctor’s office and works like this:

  • Using a fine needle, the doctor gently injects an irritating chemical (the sclerosing agent) into the varicose vein.
  • To minimize discomfort, the doctor may mix a local anesthetic with the sclerosing agent.
  • The sclerosing agent creates scar tissue inside the vein, which blocks off the flow of blood to that vein, shutting it down permanently.

Surgical

There are also a few surgical options:

  • Stripping:   Stripping is the actual removal of the infected veins.  Since the veins which typically turn varicose carry less than ten percent of the blood to the heart, this removal doesn’t adversely affect the vascular system.   Approximately 85 percent of patients experience long-term relief of varicose veins following vein stripping.
  • Ambulatory Phlebectomy: Larger varicose veins can be treated with a surgical procedure known as ambulatory phlebectomy. In this procedure, a surgeon makes a series of tiny puncture holes along the vein and then takes out small segments of the vein.   The tiny incisions require no stitches. Most people experience very little pain after the operation and are able to walk immediately following surgery.

Removing or treating varicose veins should not cause circulation problems because veins can re-route themselves around a blockage.

These and other treatments are available by using your network of Plano Dermatologists. Dermatologists in the Plano, Texas area are available for all dermatological needs, including the treatment of varicose veins.

If you live in or near the Plano area, get your FREE consumer’s report, “How to Find a Great Dermatologist in Plano” by clicking
here.

Summary of Key Points

  • Varicose veins are swollen, twisted veins that you can see just under the surface of the skin. These veins usually occur in the legs, although they also can form in other parts of the body.
  • Varicose veins are a common condition. They usually cause few signs or symptoms.   In some cases, they may cause mild to moderate pain, blood clots, or skin ulcers.
  • A number of other types of vein problems are related to varicose veins, including telangiectasias, spider veins, varicoceles, venous lakes, reticular veins, and hemorrhoids.
  • Weak or damaged valves in the veins can cause varicose veins.  One-way valves inside the veins open to let blood flow through and then shut to keep blood from flowing backward. If the valves are weak or damaged, blood can back up and pool in your veins. This causes the veins to swell.
  • A number of factors may increase your risk for varicose veins. These include family history, age, gender, pregnancy, overweight or obesity, and lack of movement.
  • The signs and symptoms of varicose veins include large veins that you can see on your skin; mild vswelling of your ankles and feet; painful, achy, or “heavy” legs; throbbing or cramping in your legs; itchy legs; and discolored skin in the area around the varicose vein.
  • Sometimes varicose veins can lead to dermatitis, an itchy skin rash. Varicose veins also can lead to superficial thrombophlebitis. This refers to a blood clot that occurs in a vein that’s at the surface of the skin.
  • Doctors often diagnose varicose veins based on a physical exam alone. Sometimes tests or procedures are done to confirm a diagnosis.
  • Lifestyle changes often are the first treatment for varicose veins. These changes can prevent varicose veins from getting worse, reduce pain, and delay other varicose veins from forming.
  • If your condition is more severe, your doctor may recommend one or more medical procedures. A number of treatments are available that are quick and easy and don’t require a long recovery time.
  • Some people choose to have a medical procedure to improve the appearance of varicose  veins or to relieve pain.
  • You can’t prevent varicose vein from forming. However, you can prevent the ones you have from getting worse. You also can take steps to delay other varicose veins from forming. Avoid sitting or standing for long periods, stay active, lose weight (if you’re overweight), avoid tight clothes and high heels, and wear compression stockings if your doctors advises you to.

This information is for general educational uses only. It may not apply to you and your specific medical needs.  This information should not be used in place of a visit, call, consultation with or the advice of your physician or health care professional.  Communicate promptly with your physician or other health care professional with any health-related questions or concerns.

Be sure to follow specific instructions given to you by your physician or health care professional.

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