Varicose Veins Overview
What Are Varicose Veins?
Blood collects oxygen from the lungs and travels to the heart, where it’s then pumped throughout the body to deliver oxygen to our cells. Once deoxygenated, blood returns to the heart via the veins in our legs. Sometimes that upward transit malfunctions, due to weakened valves that fail to close. This creates elevated pressure in the superficial (surface) veins which causes varicosities, or varicose veins. Varicose Veins occur in roughly 25% of adults, affecting more women than men.
- Varicosities can develop in any vein but are most common in the legs since standing and walking increase venous pressure. These unhealthy saphenous veins result from elevated blood pressure deeper in the leg.
- The underlying disease that often causes varicose veins is called chronic venous insufficiency.
- Varicose veins have a tell-tale twisted (tortuous) appearance, bulging at the surface of the skin in a bluish-purple or red hue.
- Family history is the top predictor of varicose vein development. Other risk factors include pregnancy, aging, weight gain, and excessive sitting or standing on the job.
- Treating varicose veins not only eliminates symptoms, it also improves your appearance and prevents serious complications. Varicose vein treatment options include minor lifestyle adjustments and minimally invasive procedures with no downtime.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
A common condition called venous insufficiency is the usual cause of varicose veins. Leg veins rely on valves that close to pump blood toward the heart and prevent accumulation or retrograde flow of blood toward the feet. Whеn thеѕе valves weaken or break, blood pools in the veins, rather than returning to the heart. As a result, the veins swell and bulge, twisting to accommodate the excess blood. Leg veins have to work against the gravitational pull, making them more prone to varicosities than other blood vessels in the body. In addition to valve failure, veins weakened by trauma or containing blood clots are also susceptible to varicose vein formation. Less commonly, venous inflammation (phlebitis) and congenital abnormalities cause varicose veins.
What Are The Symptoms Of Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are often asymptomatic, but here are some common symptoms:
- Twisted, bulging, large veins
- Leg heaviness, particularly at night
- Restless legs syndrome
- Swelling in the lower extremities
- Fatty deposits beneath the skin (Lipodermatosclerosis)
- Spider veins (Telangiectasias) at the same location
- Bluish or brownish discoloration on the ankles, calves, or shins
- Dry, red, itchy skin (called venous eczema or stasis dermatitis)
- Achiness or cramping in the legs
Who Is Affected By Varicose Veins?
Varicosities develop for various reasons in people of all ages. They’re more common in women who’ve completed the menopause transition or endured multiple pregnancies, as well as men over age 50. A family history of varicose veins predisposes both men and women to develop varicose veins at any age, as does a job which demands extensive sitting or standing.
Varicose Vein Treatments:
Multiple effective treatment options exist for patients with varicose veins. The best method of treatment depends on the patient’s unique venous composition and medical history. The severity and location of your varicosity, as well as any symptoms and skin changes help your doctor determine the best course of action.
Potential Treatments Include:
- Sclerotherapy: injecting liquid or foam into the damaged vessel to destroy it
- Ablаtіоn: employing radiofrequency, laser, or heat to destroy damaged veins
- Surgеrу: stripping or pulling the veins out surgically, known as “phlebectomy”
- Elevating legs while seated or lying down
- Support ѕtосkіngѕ
NOTE: Sclerotherapy and Radiofrequency Ablation remain the best options for most patients with vаrісоѕе vеіnѕ.
Is Varicose Vein Treatment Safe?
When performed by a board-certified vein doctor, varicose vein treatment is safe and easy for the majority of patients. The introduction of minimally invasive therapy at the turn of the 21st century vastly improved the safety profile of vein treatments. While vein treatment is safer than ever, it’s still essential to seek treatment from a trained vein doctor who customizes treatment for each patient. The award-winning vein doctors at New Jersey Vein Center tailor the treatment specifically to you.
How Do Doctors Diagnose Venous Insufficiency and Varicose Veins?
To properly treat varicose veins and venous insufficiency, a thorough physical exam and medical history are required. Your physician should ask about any symptoms you have and listen closely to your concerns. A trained physician will also ask about your treatment goals and preferences. It’s imperative that your doctor check for venous insufficiency if they suspect it’s the cause of your varicose veins. Through duplex ultrasound scanning, doctors can diagnose this condition, even if you’re asymptomatic. This thorough investigation allows them to identify blood clots, varicosities, and connections between damaged veins and healthy veins to prevent complications.