Varicose Veins

Do you know what Varicose Veins are?

Sometimes one can see a person with veins which seem bloated, bursting out from the skin, taking on a darker hue like blue or dark purple. The person is suffering from varicose veins.

The veins take deoxygenated blood back to the heart. Unidirectional valves inside veins ensure the flow of blood in the proper direction. If these valves become defective and fail to function properly, blood can flow backward and accumulate in the branches of veins causing them to expand and become varicose veins.

These veins are not confined to a particular area of the body but can occur anywhere like thighs, ankles and feet.

Warning Signs

How does a person know that he or she is suffering from Varicose veins? Unfortunately, it may not be detected immediately. There are some warning signs. The typical symptom is a feeling of heaviness in the legs. Legs hurt when a person is walking or even standing usually for long hours at a stretch and at times cramps develop mainly during the night. Sometimes a mild swelling can be observed in the legs, ankles and feet at times accompanied by a burning sensation. The skin too may be affected. On touching it, it may feel harder and thicker. An itchy rash may appear and discoloration noticed. It is difficult to slow the flow of blood if for any reason one bleeds from the veins. Wounds in the affected area may take time to heal.

How do they develop?

What exactly are veins? Veins are thin-walled entities equipped with a set of valves which allow our blood to flow in a single direction. Our heart pumps and gives blood enriched with oxygen to the tissues of our body via thick-walled arteries. Our veins help the blood go back to the heart. Veins can be mostly categorized as superficial and deep veins. As the name suggests superficial veins rests close to the surface of our skin while deep veins nestle in the muscles of our legs and arms.

If these veins suffer from damage of any kind the natural flow of blood will be hampered. There is a tendency for blood to stagnate and flow in a backward direction resulting in swollen, twisted veins. Varicose veins not only negatively affect our circulatory system but results in poor performance by valves, slow blood flow and even formation of blood clots.

Types of Varicose Vein Problems

  • Varicose Veins
  • Spider Veins
  • Varicose Ulcer or Venous Ulcers
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis
  • Superficial Vein Thrombosis

Why We Get Varicose Veins?

Though it is difficult to pinpoint the exact reason behind the manifestation of varicose veins, there are several risk factors for developing them.
i

Standing for long periods

Those people who have prolonged periods of standing at work or otherwise have a higher risk of developing varicose veins. As veins carry our blood back to the heart, the muscles of our legs give them a push. If one is standing or sitting for prolonged periods, the muscles too become lethargic. A standing posture also increases the traveling time of the blood against the pull of gravity. Risk factors include standing for more than six hours a day, lifting heavy weights or standing with high heels.
i

Hereditary

If you have a family history of varicose veins you may face a greater risk of developing the disease.
i

Deep Vein Thrombosis

The risk factor of getting varicose veins deepens if a person has been a victim of deep vein thrombosis. If a person has suffered from a blood clot in a deep vein in the legs, the valves may be afflicted, heightening the pressure on superficial veins which may widen and bulge.
i

Female hormones

Women run the risk of developing varicose veins more than men. Often birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy can affect veins adversely. Female hormones cause a relaxing effect on the veins which can spell danger.
i

Pregnancy

During pregnancy female hormones are extremely active. The baby growing inside the womb also exerts pressure on the veins. However, even if varicose veins appear, they are usually temporary and disappear after three months of pregnancy.
i

Obesity

Being obese or overweight puts the veins under stress. Shedding excess weight can keep varicose veins away.

Varicose Veins

Varicose veins often occur on the thighs, the backs and fronts of the calves, or the inside of the legs near the ankles and feet. In the course of pregnancy, varicose veins can appear around the inner thigh, lower pelvic area, and buttocks.

The Right Detection

A physical examination conducted by a qualified doctor is generally enough to let you know if you have varicose veins. However, there are times when other diagnostic tests are carried to detect the extent of the problem or to rule out other medical conditions.

An sonogram test may be recommended. This is an ultrasound scan which tests the direction of the blood flowing in our veins. Such a test can help to detect blood clots or any other barrier erected in the veins hampering the smooth flow of blood.

How are they treated?

Most treatments involve removing or closing the varicose veins. The procedure ensures that your blood flow is not affected and other veins take up the job that your varicose veins used to perform. You may have to go through one of the procedures given below.
i

Sclerotherapy

In this treatment, a chemical fluid is injected into your vein. This causes irritation and scarring inside the vein, thus forcing it to close and disappear. Sclerotherapy is a hugely successful treatment for smaller varicose veins and may require several sessions. You may have to go in for treatment at intervals of four to six weeks. After going through the procedure, you may experience a little discomfort as your legs will be swathed with elastic bandaging to help them heal and reduce swelling.
i

Endovenous Laser or Radiofrequency Ablation Therapy

In this treatment, varicose veins are sealed by producing heat with lasers or radio waves. What is the patient subjected to when he or she goes in for endovenous ablation therapy? A catheter is inserted into the vein by your physician. The tip of the catheter produces heat and closes your vein. The entire process takes a few minutes. Throughout the process, the patient is awake. Discomfort is eliminated with numbing of the area and sometimes with light sedation. The treatment is completed the same day.
i

Ambulatory Phlebectomy

This procedure is mostly used to remove varicose veins resting near the surface of the skin. Your skin will be subjected to tiny cuts near your veins. The veins would be stripped away by the doctor. The area around the veins is numbed and the patient is discharged from the treatment facility the same day.
i

Vein Stripping and Ligation

In an extreme case of varicose veins, the doctor may suggest vein stripping and ligation. Veins are tied shut and removed with the help of small cuts. While undergoing this procedure, the patient will be sedated and therefore, feel no pain. This is an outpatient procedure.
i

Spider Veins

As the name suggests, these are small red coloured veins which give the appearance of a spider web or tree branches. These can be spotted under our skin, but unlike varicose veins, they do not bulge out. They usually appear on your face and legs. Though they may result in a feeling of unease but they hardly ever cause pain. Varicose veins are much more prominent than spider veins and are seen jutting out.

How can you make out?

Unlike varicose veins, there are very few symptoms related to spider veins except for their appearance. At times the person suffering from spider veins may undergo a feeling of discomfort or even a burning sensation. Spider veins are considered relatively harmless. However, medical help is always advisable. The doctor may suggest going through duplex ultrasonography. This test is painless and helps to find out your valve function and the amount of blood flowing back to your legs. It can also decipher if there are any blood clots beside the formation of the veins. This test helps the doctor decide on the course to follow.

The Healing Process

Though usually harmless, people suffering from spider veins want to get rid of their condition which besides marring their looks can cause discomfort. How can spider veins vanish?
i

Using Compression stockings or socks

Compression stockings or socks are beneficial as they exert pressure on your veins placed in the lower parts of the legs. This will improve blood circulation. They could also bring relief from swelling in the legs and ward off blood clots. There are various types of stockings one could go in for depending on the amount of pressure that is right for your veins. Light pressure is exerted if you use support pantyhose while gradient compression stockings and socks exert medium pressure in your feet, ankle and calves. If the doctor advises, you can go for prescription compression stockings, which puts stronger pressure on your feet and legs. These can be bought only with a medical prescription and comes in all sizes, including a footless version.
i

Sclerotherapy

This is done under medical supervision. An irritant is injected into the affected vein. It helps to reduce swelling and makes the veins shrivel, bringing relief. One has to wait as the results are not instant. Several sessions may be needed before your spider veins disappear. Post-treatment, the patient, may be asked to put on compression stockings before your spider veins fade out.
i

Laser treatment

You can get rid of minute spider veins, smaller than three millimeters lying near the surface of the skin through laser treatment. An intense pointed beam of light is used to dry up your spider veins. This treatment is more comfortable than Sclerotherapy as nothing is injected.
i

Endovenous laser therapy (EVLT)

This is one of the latest medical procedures to help you get rid of spider veins using local anesthesia. In this procedure, a doctor makes a small cut in the vein requiring treatment and a laser fiber passes through. This laser generates heat causing the vein to close.

Manhattan Vein Center

At Downtown Vein Physicians we are focused on treating disorders of the venous system.….. Read More

Manhattan Vein Center

80 Maiden Ln #905B New York, NY 10038 (Maiden Lane & Gold Street)
(212) 386-7888
Downtown Physicians