Got varicose veins? Don’t worry; you’re not alone. According to the Society for Vascular Surgery, approximately 30 million people in the U.S. suffer from varicose veins, which are swollen, tortuous veins that appear just underneath the skin surface, typically on the legs.
Because most individuals keep them hidden, most don’t know that they’re common. It usually starts with clusters of red and blue spider veins and progresses to ropey, purplish veins twisting down the legs.
The Problem with Varicose Veins
Although many people discount varicose veins as nothing more than a cosmetic issue, the truth is that in many cases, they’re aching, burning, throbbing, and swollen. Many people think that varicose veins aren’t dangerous, says a top vascular surgeon in Miami, which isn’t always the case. He adds that if left untreated, varicose veins could lead to skin discoloration, swelling, bleeding, ulcerations, and worse, blood clots.
Varicose veins are usually caused by defective valves in the superficial veins of the legs, specifically in the thigh’s greater saphenous vein. Veins work by draining blood from your legs by making use of a one-way valve system. When your veins become faulty, the valves won’t reflux or close properly, and pressure would then accumulate in your venous system, which would then result in twisted and enlarged veins—varicose veins.
If your varicose veins are not causing you discomfort, you might not have to see medical help, unless you want them removed for cosmetic reasons. Otherwise, consult a doctor if the skin feels irritated and sore due to your swollen veins that you have a tough time sleeping, and in turn, doing your daily tasks.
Varicose Veins Treatment Options
If you require treatment for your varicose veins, depending on how far along your condition has progressed, your doctor might advise you to wear compression stockings for six months, elevate your legs when resting and sleeping, as well as exercise regularly. If these don’t do anything to alleviate your symptoms or lead to complications, you might need more aggressive treatment, including:
Endovenous thermal ablation or laser therapy, where heat would be used for closing off the varicose veins;
Sclerotherapy, which a special foam would be used for sealing the varicose veins; or
Stripping and ligation, where the varicose veins would be removed surgically.
The most appropriate treatment would be dependent on your specific circumstances, so you need to discuss treatment options with a vein specialist to determine the best one for you.