The Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options for Varicose Veins: A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding and Managing this Common Condition

Varicose veins are enlarged, spiral-shaped veins that form under the skin. They are usually present in the legs, though other variations of varices can be found in the anus and scrotum. The veins expand, dilate, and become filled with blood. Varicose veins often have a bluish-purple or red tone and an elevated, swollen appearance. It affects a lot of people, particularly women. In adulthood, varicose veins affect about 25% of people. Few symptoms are typically present with varicose veins. Some people, though, might feel pain in the area. Bleeding or superficial thrombophlebitis are examples of complications. They can become tender to the touch and become inflamed, which can impair circulation to the point where it results in swollen ankles, itchy skin, and pain in the affected limb.

Varicose Veins

Varicose Veins

Causes

Veins possess one-way valves which enable blood to flow in one direction. The valves may weaken if the walls of the vein stretch and lose their elasticity. This leads to backflow and pooling and accumulation of blood resulting in enlarged veins. The most frequently impacted veins are those that are the furthest from the heart, including those in the legs. This is due to gravity, which makes it more difficult for the blood to return to the heart. It is more likely for superficial veins to develop varicose because they are supported by less muscle than deep veins.

Varicose veins can develop as a result of any ailment that places too much strain on the legs or abdomen. Pregnancy, obesity, and prolonged standing are the main causes of pressure. Varicose veins can also be brought on by chronic constipation and, in very rare instances, malignancies. Being inactive can also create varicosity since weak muscles don’t pump blood as well as strong ones do. As veins become weaker with age, the likelihood of varicosity also rises. Also, previous leg injury may harm the venous valves, leading to varicosity. Furthermore, since genetics is a factor, a person is more likely to develop varicose veins if a relative has developed one. Contrary to popular belief, sitting with the legs crossed can’t cause varicose veins, but it can aggravate varicose veins already present in your body.

Symptoms

Varicose veins are pretty simple to spot and can be an annoyance for many people due to their appearance. Symptoms of varicose veins are as follows:

  • Visible and enlarged veins
  • Swollen ankles and feet
  • Rash
  • Color changes in the skin
  • Cramps in the calf or thigh, often at night or when suddenly standing
  • Sensations in the legs, such as a heavy feeling, burning, and/or aching
  • Itching near or around the veins

On worsening of varicosity, the following could ensue:

  • Dry, irritated, scaly skin that cracks easily
  • Skin sores (ulcers) that do not heal easily
  • Thickening and hardening of the skin in the legs and ankles (this can happen over time)

Varicose vein symptoms could resemble those of other medical conditions, so appropriate medical care must be sought as soon as possible.

Treatment Options

Compression stockings, surgeries, or other procedures can all be used as varicose vein treatment options in addition to self-care methods. Varicose vein treatments are frequently performed as outpatient procedures.

Self-care

Exercise, lifting the legs when sitting or lying down, and using compression stockings are all examples of self-care measures that can help reduce varicose vein pain and possibly stop them from growing worse.

Compression Stockings

The first course of action is frequently to wear compression stockings all day. The leg compression provided by the stockings improves blood flow through the veins and muscles of the legs. By type and brand, compression levels differ. Most pharmacies and medical supply stores offer compression stockings for sale. If varicose veins are causing symptoms, there are also prescription-strength stockings that may be covered by insurance.

Leg elevation

It is advised to raise the legs three or four times every day, for a total of 15 minutes at a time. Flexing (bending) the legs now and then can help keep blood flowing if sitting or standing for an extended amount of time. Elevating the legs can help relieve other symptoms and minimize leg swelling if mild to moderate varicose veins are present

Sclerotherapy

This is the most common treatment option for varicose veins. It is a minimally invasive procedure that involves injecting a solution into the veins that cause it to seal up leading to redirection of blood and decompression of the veins. There may be a need for multiple injections into the same vein. Sclerotherapy can be performed at a doctor’s office without using an anesthetic.

Thermal ablation

In order to treat varicose veins, lasers or radiofrequency radiation may be employed. A catheter is used to inject a small fiber into a varicose vein. The wall of the varicose vein is destroyed by the heat delivered by the laser or radiofrequency energy.

High ligation and vein stripping

In this treatment, a vein is tied off just before it merges with a deep vein, and then it is cut out and removed. Most people will undergo this surgery as an outpatient. The higher amounts of blood are handled by deeper veins in the leg, therefore removing the vein won’t stop blood flow

Ambulatory phlebectomy

A healthcare professional uses a series of microscopic skin punctures to remove smaller varicose veins. In this outpatient procedure, the leg is only numbed in the areas that will be punctured. Scarring is typically not severe.

Final thoughts

For some people, varicose veins are simply a cosmetic concern. For others, they cause pain and discomfort. Varicose veins can occasionally result in more significant issues, seeking appropriate medical care will improve the outcome and preserve quality of life.

References

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/varicose-veins/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20350649

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