What Are Varicose Veins?

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Published on: October 9, 2017

Varicose veins are frowned upon by many people who find them unpleasant to look at. While they don’t cause significant problems by themselves, they’re worth checking out, as they could be symptoms of other medical conditions.

Causes and Symptoms
Varicose veins occur more commonly among females and is hereditary in nature. Pregnant women often have them during the first trimester because of hormonal changes. Others develop varicose veins during puberty and menopause. Leg injuries, obesity and standing for an extended period can also cause the veins to appear swollen.

There are no noticeable symptoms except the appearance of more noticeable veins under the skin. They will look like bruises but in the form of lines. The pressure on the veins, which function as passageways of the blood towards the heart, will make them wider.

Veins in the Legs
They often appear in the calves because there is more pressure on the lower body. Reticular varicose veins, which are red and grouped closely together, often appear around the ankles. Trunk varicose veins are thicker and nearer to the skin surface. These are the bulgy veins.

Varicose veins in the legs usually form in the greater saphenous vein (from the ankle to the back of your thighs) and the lesser saphenous veins (from the Achilles tendon to the back of the knees). While branch type veins appear below the knees. Varicose veins can also appear near the genital area.

Veins on the Cheeks
Sometimes thread or spider veins also appear on the face. Called telangiectasia varicose veins, they are red and blue veins grouped closely together. Besides hormonal changes, they appear because of damage to blood vessels.

Possible Problems
There is a possibility that the pressure on the veins will cause the skin in the ankles to change and become ulcers. Inflammation of the veins might be caused by clotting of the blood in the veins. Another possibility still is deep vein thrombosis, wherein the blood stagnates in the veins when the legs become inactive. Thrombosis is very rare, however.

Varicose veins don’t have symptoms but other people may feel slight pain in and heaviness of the legs. However, these can be confused with the following diseases: arteriosclerosis, lumbar disk herniation, erythema nodosum, lymphangitis, chronic venous insufficiency, livedo reticularis and others.

Treatment
To avoid developing more noticeable veins, never sit or stand for extended periods. If your job requires you to stand or sit for hours, wear support or compression stockings. Avoid wearing high heels or staying still for long periods of time.

Getting rid of bad lifestyle habits can also help reduce the appearance of varicose veins. Losing weight can help. Exercise and keep hydrated.

If the veins are very noticeable, you can try other treatments such as sclerotherapy, YAG laser treatment, intravascular treatment or endovenous laser, and radiofrequency occlusion.

In sclerotherapy, a concentrated saline solution is injected into the vein. YAG laser causes the superficial blood vessels to collapse and then seal. Intravascular therapy involves inserting a laser fiber into the vein to deliver laser pulses. Radio-frequency occlusion delivers radio frequency into a vein through a catheter.

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