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Varicose veins are blood vessels that are twisted and swollen. They are enlarged and appear just below the skin’s surface. Usually, any vein that is just superficial or close to the skin’s surface can become a varicose vein. This condition arises when the vein walls are weak, and the valves do not work properly. As a result, the blood returns or goes back into the vein. Blue or purple swellings are seen on the legs and feet of people who suffer from varicose veins.
Varicose veins usually occur in the lower body and are commonly seen in the legs. This is because activities like prolonged standing and walking can increase the pressure in the veins in the legs.
Mostly, varicose veins are just a cosmetic issue and aren’t dangerous. However, for some, these conditions can cause aches, pain, and discomfort. Varicose veins may also lead to serious conditions like blood clots. Recognition of early-stage varicose veins symptoms is therefore important.
Who Can Get Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins can develop in anyone. However, certain factors may cause varicose veins to arise more easily. These include:
- Age: With age, veins become stiff and less elastic. The vein walls and valves do not work efficiently.
- Gender: Women tend to develop varicose veins more than men, as female hormones may cause stretching of the vein walls.
- Family history: Varicose veins run in families.
- Lifestyle: Long periods of standing or sitting increase the chances of varicose veins due to poor circulation.
- Obesity: The extra body weight will put pressure on blood vessels, causing varicose veins.
Early Warnings Signs and Symptoms
Since varicose veins do not usually cause pain, they are usually ignored. The early stage varicose veins symptoms and signs include:
- Veins that appear bluish or dark purple in color
- Veins that bulge out from the skin and look twisted
Sometimes, varicose veins do cause painful symptoms. These may include:
- A feeling of heaviness or sluggishness in the legs, especially after some physical activity.
- An uncomfortable ache in the legs or may feel soreness.
- Increase in pain after sitting or standing for long
- Muscle cramps and swelling in lower legs
- The feeling of burning or throbbing in the lower legs
- Itchiness around one or several veins
In such cases, varicose veins diagnosis is important.
Severe Varicose Vein Symptoms
If ignored, early-stage varicose vein symptoms may become severe. These severe varicose veins symptoms may cause certain complications, but these are rare. They include:
- Ulcers: Ulcers may develop on the skin near the various veins, especially around the ankles. These are painful, and a doctor’s opinion must be sought immediately.
- Formation of blood clots: Sometimes, the veins lying deep within the legs enlarge and may cause swelling and pain in the legs. This can be a sign of a blood clot and could lead to conditions like Deep Vein Thrombosis. If the condition is persistent, seek your doctor’s advice immediately.
- Bleeding: The varicose veins that are close to the skin surface may sometimes burst if you cut or bump your leg. This will result in minor bleeding, but it may be difficult to stop. medical attention must be sought.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Varicose Veins
Varicose vein diagnosis can be done in several ways by your doctor.
- Physical examination: It is easy to see varicose veins that are just under the skin’s surface. Doctors can diagnose these by a physical examination. These veins will be examined when you are in different positions, like sitting or standing.
- Tests: For varicose veins diagnosis, a doctor may suggest a venous Doppler ultrasound of the leg. This is a non-invasive test and can help detect any blood clot, show how the valves are functioning, and how the blood flows through the vein valves.
Treatment of Varicose Veins in the Legs
There is no cure for varicose veins. However, there are some treatments for varicose veins in the legs. Such treatments can provide comfort from symptoms and reduce the ugly appearance. These include self-care, procedures, or surgeries.
- Elevation of legs: This will increase blood flow and cause a reduction of pressure in the veins. It is suggested this be done several times a day.
- Use of supportive stockings: Wearing these stockings is the first step to try for treatment for varicose veins in legs. The stockings put pressure on your legs, helping veins to function properly and the blood to move more efficiently.
- Change of position: Avoid long periods of sitting or standing. Take regular breaks and walk around to encourage blood flow.
- Sclerotherapy: This is an injection treatment where a solution or foam is introduced into your vein. This solution results in the walls of the veins sticking together. Slowly, the vein will form scar tissue and fade.
- Laser treatment: Under this procedure, strong bursts of light or laser are sent into the vein. This causes the vein to fade away slowly and disappear. No cuts are made or injections are needed.
- Laser therapy: This is also known as endovenous thermal ablation. It is a minimally invasive procedure and is catheter-based using lasers or radiofrequency energy. This is the preferred treatment if the varicose veins are large. Your doctor or health care provider will insert a catheter into the large affected vein. The tip of the catheter is heated using either radiofrequency or lasers. When the catheter is removed, the heat will destroy the vein, which then collapses and seals.
Vein Surgery: This procedure is also called ligation and stripping. The surgeon will tie off the affected vein (ligation) before it joins a deep vein. This will stop the blood from collecting. Sometimes, the surgeon may remove or strip the vein to prevent recurrence of varicose veins.
Ambulatory phlebectomy: This surgical procedure removes visible, superficial veins through small, slit-like incisions made on the skin by the surgeon. The affected vein is removed in small segments.
Varicose veins are usually not severe and do not require any treatment if there are no symptoms of discomfort. However, severe varicose veins symptoms that do not improve with self-care measures may require treatment to reduce discomfort and to avoid further complications. The point to remember is to know how to identify early signs of varicose veins symptoms. Some may also want to treat the varicose veins for cosmetic reasons, as they look ugly.