Varicose Veins

General Information | Risk Factors and Symptoms | Diagnosis and Treatment

General information General Information

About Varicose Veins

Laser therapy and sclerotherapy can dramatically improve the appearance of your legs.

Varicose veins are gnarled, enlarged veins close to the skin surface. Any vein may become varicose. The most commonly affected ones are in the legs and feet. Varicose veins are a common condition in the United States. They affect up to 60 percent of all Americans.

For many people, varicose veins and spider veins are simply a cosmetic concern. Spider veins are a common, mild and medically insignificant variation of varicose veins. For other people, varicose veins can cause aching pain and discomfort. Sometimes the condition leads to more serious problems. Varicose veins also may signal a higher risk of other disorders of the circulatory system.

Facts About Varicose Veins

Varicose veins occur when blood flow from the legs to the heart decreases and blood begins to pool in the veins.

Normally, valves within the vein help blood flow upward against gravity. When these valves malfunction, they allow blood to flow backwards and pool in the vein. This, along with an age-related loss in vein elasticity, results in stretching of the veins that give them a bulging, ropey appearance. The legs and feet are more susceptible to varicose veins because their valves endure the most pressure as blood is carried back to the heart. In the legs, it is usually a thigh vein called the great saphenous that becomes varicose.

Normal and varicose veins

Here are some additional facts about varicose veins:

  • It is estimated that 25% of women and 15% of men worldwide have visible varicose veins.
  • Varicose veins affect half of people age 50 and older, and 15-20% of all adults.
  • Heredity is the number one contributing factor to varicose veins. If both parents have varicose veins, your chances of getting them are close to 90%.

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Risk factors and symptoms Risk Factors and Symptoms

Risk Factors for Varicose Veins

Varicose veins do not only occur in women. However, women, especially older women, are at a higher risk for developing them.

Following are some additional risk factors for varicose veins:

  • Over the age of 30
  • Overweight
  • Family history of varicose veins
  • Pregnancy (particularly more than one)
  • Prolonged sitting or standing
  • Injury to the veins
  • Blood clots
  • Conditions that increase pressure in the abdomen, such as liver disease, fluid in the abdomen, previous groin surgery, or heart failure
By treating varicose veins, you can eliminate aching in your legs and get back to doing the activities you enjoy

Reducing the Risk

You can somewhat reduce the risk of varicose veins in the legs by taking the following measures. These may also lessen the discomfort and slow the progression of existing varicose veins.

  • Do not sit or stand for prolonged periods of time
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise regularly
  • Wear compression stockings
  • Regularly elevate legs
  • Avoid tight clothing and high heels
  • Don’t sit with your legs crossed

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Symptoms of Varicose Veins in the Legs

Varicose veins may be visible but not cause any symptoms. Conversely, you may experience symptoms of varicose veins without any being apparent. Varicose veins symptoms are usually mild. However, there can be more severe symptoms and complications with varicose veins.

Symptoms of varicose veins include:

  • An achy or heavy feeling in the legs
  • Burning, throbbing, or muscle cramping in the legs
  • Swelling in the lower legs
  • Brownish-gray discoloration around the ankle
  • Itching skin over the varicose vein
  • Non-healing skin ulcers around the ankle (this represents a serious form of vascular disease which requires immediate attention)

Diagnosis and treatment Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosing Varicose Veins

To determine if you have varicose veins and/or their severity, you may first undergo a noninvasive vascular assessment (NIVA) which is a type of ultrasound. These painless exams assess blood flow through the veins to definitively diagnose varicose veins and look for blood clots, which may cause some symptoms associated with varicose veins.

Treating this Condition

If self-help measures don’t sufficiently alleviate your varicose vein symptoms, there are many treatment options you may consider that are available through physicians.

Endovenous laser therapy for varicose veins, also referred to as VenaCure™, is a relatively simple procedure that uses laser technology to close the greater saphenous vein. It is virtually painless with a quick recovery time.

Sclerotherapyuses a chemical solution to effectively close small and medium sized varicose veins non-invasively.

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