Varicose Vein Information
Varicose Veins Treatments and Varicose Vein Treatment Options
What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are enlarged and often gnarled veins that are close to the surface of your skin, with many making the skin bulge outward.
When someone has many varicose veins their legs will appear to have a blue tinge from a distance. This is caused by the veins being so close to the surface of the skin.
These veins are not only ugly to look at but they can also be very painful and cause medical complications. About 25% of the female population and 15% of the male population have this painful issue and when you look at those over 50, nearly 50% are affected.
Many women develop varicose veins while they are pregnant and although most will go away after giving birth a good portion of women will have their leg problems for life.
A vein becomes varicose when it can no longer pump the blood back to the heart properly. The valves that help move the blood up towards the heart get weak and blood pools instead of being pushed along quickly. As the valves weaken they swell and become varicose and can no longer function as they should.
Spider veins are similar to varicose veins but they are much smaller and often do not hurt as much.
Hemorrhoids are also veins that have become varicose although we won't be covering hemorrhoids today.
So what can you do about varicose veins?What are the treatment options ?What are the alternate treatments?What can you do to help alleviate this painful health issue?These are some of the questions that we will be asking and answering on this page.
What Types Of Treatment Options Are There For Varicose Veins?
This really depends on the progression and condition of your varicose veins.
Most vein "stripping" now is done with 2 small incisions, one near the calf muscle and one in the groin area and the vein can be easily removed, by pulling the vein out from either incision.
The large saphenous vein is almost never removed since it can be later used for heart bypass surgery.
If the veins are gnarled or twisted, often incisions are made every 2-3 inches and the vein is pulled out in small pieces. The incisions are then other stitched or stapled closed. If staples are used the are usually removed one week later.
Sclerotherapy involves the injection of a solution, often a saline solution, directly into the varicose vein or spider vein. The veins become irritated and swollen. They then will stick together, clot and then turn into scar tissue.
The vein then will dissolve naturally over time.
Sclerotherapy is done right in the doctors office and the visit is only 60 minutes or so. Depending on the amount and the size of the varicose veins, several visits may be necessary.
There isn't much pain involved with sclerotherapy, just a feeling of heat, almost a burning sensation and sometimes there is itchiness for a few days afterwards and some people experience a cramping feeling.
Most varicose veins will leave a brown colored line under the skin for up to two years later. Most may not disappear at all but you have a good chance that they will.
Except for a few days of not being able to apply skin lotion or do a lot of walking or cardio where you would be pounding the legs on to the ground, you can usually resume normal daily function the same day.
Unfortunately not everyone is a good candidate for sclerotherapy.
Thermal ablation is similar to sclerotherapy except an electrical current is used instead of liquid solution and the heat seals the veins causing them to dissolve over time.
Again similar to sclerotherapy, with the exception that a laser is used to shoot beams of light onto the veins causing them seal, and then dissolve over time.
Photo of Legs After Vein Stripping
Above is a photo of my legs after I had vein stripping done on them in 1986.
Each one of the vertical lines on where the skin was cut is a staple. The vein stripping was done on both the back and front of my legs, from ankles to the top of each leg, and the staples numbered more than 170.
They do tell you that the veins can and usually will grow back and will more-than-likely become varicose again.
Luckily there are newer not so invasive procedures.
Varicose Veins or Spider Veins?
Are you bothered more by varicose veins or spider veins? Maybe both?
Which Treatment Is Best For Varicose Veins?
That's a decision that only you and your doctor can arrive at.
Each case is different, and each treatment method has to be assessed.
Your doctor will look at your current and past health history, along with the health history of family members and will then take a very good look at your veins, touch them, see how they react, and after looking at the veins from your groin down to your feet, your doctor will either discuss options with you that they will complete or refer you to a specialist.
What Can Be Done To Help Prevent Varicose Veins?
Unfortunately you can't totally prevent varicose veins.
However, by keeping your circulation optimized and good muscle tone you may be able to reduce the appearance of varicose & spider veins.
Elevate your legs when ever possible. When your watching TV rest them on a pillow.
Exercise Get your circulation going by regular exercise like walking.
Don't sit or stand too long at one time. Get up an move around. When you sit or stand for a long time the blood will start to pool in your legs making your veins work harder. If you move your muscles will help the veins circulate your blood.
Lose Weight if you are over weight. Extra weight can cause unnecessary pressure on your veins.
Watch your diet and try to reduce salt intake. Salt can make your body retain water which will again put unnecessary pressure on your veins. Also try to eat more high fiber foods. Constipation can not only cause hemorrhoids but will put pressure on your circulatory system.
Try to wear loose of clothing or under garments that might stop or hinder circulation. This is especially true of clothing around the waist and legs.
Wear elastic socks, stockings or pantyhose. This will help compress the veins and aid in circulation. You can find these in the hosiery section of larger department stores.
Videos To Help You Learn More About Varicose Veins
Have You Seen a Medical Professional About Your Veins Yet?
Have you had a consultation with a doctor yet about your varicose or spider veins?
Tips For Preventing Varicose Veins
While most varicose veins do not have any symptoms, some affected with them usually experience pain. Other symptoms include itching around one or more affected veins. There is also that achy or heavy feeling in the legs, burning and throbbing in the legs, muscle cramping, and swelling of the lower legs. The most severe cases usually develop skin ulcers near the ankle.
There are several factors that contribute to the development of varicose veins. Women, for example, are more likely to experience varicose veins than men. Hormonal changes such as pregnancy, pre-menstruation, or menopause, are some of the possible causes. Genes could hand down varicose veins too. Aging also contributes to the wear and tear of the veins, causing the valves within those veins to malfunction. Moreover, excessive weight as well as standing and sitting for long periods of time could give one varicose veins too.
Usually, self-help measures are effective in easing the pain in varicose veins and may prevent the condition from worsening. Listed below are a few of them.
Wearing Compression Stockings
Self-care measures start by wearing compression stockings. When worn all day, compression stockings squeeze the legs and help the veins and leg muscles to move blood. The amount of compression usually varies b type and brand. Fortunately, there are many types and brands of stockings to choose from. Patients can now choose the most comfortable ones. Before buying compression stockings, keep in mind that they should fit properly. Determining the right fit is easy. Using a tape measure, you or a companion can measure your legs to get the right size and fit.
Of course, there are also traditional common-sense approaches to preventing varicose veins. One is regular exercise. Exercise, such as walking, promotes proper blood circulation. Thus, walking regularly improves blood flow and prevents overtaxing of the veins.
Because excessive weight puts unnecessary pressure on the veins, losing weight may also help prevent varicose veins. A low-salt, high fiber diet prevents swelling of the veins resulting from water retention and constipation.
You may also consider switching your high heels for low-heeled shoes. Low-heeled shoes work calf muscles, which in turn is good for the veins because blood circulation is improved. Tight clothing and undergarments are not advisable because they impede blood circulation.
Elevate Your Legs
Elevating your legs daily above the level of the heart improves venous circulation. Do this by lying down with your legs resting on three or four pillows.
Proper Posture for Good Circulation
Avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time. Change positions frequently to encourage good circulation. Change your position at least every 30 minutes. When sitting down, avoid crossing your legs. The position only worsens circulation problems.
Pretty much of the measures to prevent varicose veins are easy to perform and are common activities done daily. Practicing these good habits not only help prevent varicose veins, they contribute to your general well being as well. So put on your low-heeled shoes and start walking.
Varicose Vein Staple Scars
Health Concerns or Looks?
Are you more concerend about your varicose & spider veins for health concerns or for looks?
Compression socks are in the same grouping as support socks.
While most compression socks give you added support from your arch to the top of the sock you will find that those labeled "gradual support" give more support higher up on the sock.
Gradual compression socks usually give more support than standard support socks and runners, walkers and people involved in high intensity cardio workouts find that they may help in their recovery time and are becoming extremely popular as a sport sock.
You will often see them listed as running compression socks or compression socks running and they come in sizes and styles for both men and women.
The products on this site are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
If you have any questions or concerns about your varicose veins or spider veins we suggest that you discuss this with your physician as we are not a substitute for their care.