Varicose Veins: What Most People May Not Know

varicose-veins-what-most-people-may-not-know

August 26, 2015

General Surgery 0

What is part of public knowledge is that varicose veins are generally caused by inherent weaknesses like faulty valves in the vein. Frequently, this abnormal vein condition is accompanied by swollen and spiraling veins, which are highly visible to the naked eye. Deep blue or purple in color, these bulging veins in the legs cause severe cramps and stiffness in the legs.

As most curious people like to explore what causes varicose veins, what you may be puzzled to discover that the blood valves that act as one-way flaps to prevent blood from flowing backwards, can become weak and ineffective. That condition will result in blood leaking back into the veins and making the veins swollen and bulgy!

The UK health authorities report that nearly 30% of all adults suffer from varicose veins. In the US, the NIH estimates that 33% of women and 17% of men are affected by varicose veins. However, MedicineNet.com: Varicose Veins suggests that a prior family history of varicose veins and old age increase the chances of developing varicose or spider veins.

Medical facts about varicose veins

The Women’s health.gov provides an informative resource on varicose veins and spider veins fact sheet that may be consulted by affected persons looking for in-depth information.

While varicose veins are swollen and bulging, the red or blue spider veins are the smaller version of varicose veins. They also are relatively closer to the surface of the skin. The spider veins are usually characterized by their short, web-like, twisted lines and hence the name—spider veins. Unlike the varicose veins, spider veins may occur both in the legs and on the face. Spider veins, apart from blood backup, may also be caused by hormonal changes or excessive exposure to the sun.

According to this source, varicose or spider veins may be triggered by any of one of these preconditions: Age, family history, hormonal change, pregnancy, obesity, lack of exercise, or excessive sun.

The physical symptoms of varicose veins

The common symptoms associated with varicose veins include:

  • Visible swelling or reddish purple lines in the legs
  • Itchy or burning skin with darkening of the skin
  • Frequent leg cramps that get worse after standing for a long time
  • A throbbing sensation in the legs
  • Heaviness in the legs

Many times, because of thin lines, the spider veins are not visible on the skin but they cause the same amount of pain, itchiness, or discomfort as varicose veins do.

The common treatment for varicose and spider veins

In most cases, varicose or spider veins are treated with the following methods:

  • Sclerotherapy: This involves injecting a chemical into the veins. The chemical causes the vein walls to seal in and check the flow of blood. Ultimately, the affected vein turns into a scar tissue. This treatment procedure can be conducted in the doctor’s office without anesthesia. The patient can resume normal activity shortly afterwards. If the same vein requires a repeat procedure, this procedure can be repeated once every four to six weeks.Note: The patient is usually instructed to use gradient compression stockings after Sclerotherapy to aid quick healing of the veins.
  • Endovenous laser treatment – During this procedure, a small laser beam is passed through an intravenous catheter—directly on top of the affected part of the vein. The tiny laser gradually burn the vein seal the injury. If needed, the entire vein can be treated this way. This procedure requires local anesthesia and may need to temporary nerve injury.



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