Varicose Veins: Causes, Prevention, and Solutions
Men and women can both develop varicose veins or smaller, but still unsightly, spider veins. Women are more likely to develop them than men, with about half developing visible veins in their legs by the time they reach 50.
You don’t have to live with varicose veins. Many factors contribute to their development, some are controllable and some are not. Taking preventative measures can minimize or prevent their development altogether. For those who cannot avoid their development, there are ways to get rid of them.
Arteries carry blood away from the heart and veins carry it back. Veins have valves that keep blood from flowing backwards. These valves can become weak, allowing blood to back up and pool in the veins. Pooled blood enlarges the veins causing spider veins and eventually larger varicose veins. Factors which contribute to the development of spider and varicose veins include:
- Hormonal changes
- Standing for long periods of time
- Sun exposure
- Abdominal tumors
Aside from the way they look, spider veins are relatively harmless. Larger, varicose veins can cause pains and serious health problems including:
- Blood clots
- Sores and skin ulcers
- Legs that tire easily
There are some thing that we cannot or choose not to avoid, such as genetics, hormonal changes, and pregnancy. Preventative measures can help to minimize the impact of these things. Some steps you can take to prevent varicose veins include:
- Exercise regularly to strengthen the legs and veins and improve circulation
- Elevate your legs when resting
- Avoid standing or sitting in one position for long periods of time, even if this means shifting your weight from one leg to the other while standing, or getting up and walking around often.
- Maintain healthy weight
- Avoid crossing your legs while sitting
- Avoid clothing that constricts your waist, groin, and legs
In some cases, varicose veins will develop no matter how hard you try to prevent them. If you have already developed varicose veins, they can be treated or removed.
- Compression stockings. Compression stocking can improve mild varicose veins and are often tried before other, more invasive techniques are applied.
- Injection therapy (sclerotherapy). A solution can be injected into the affected vein which causes the vein to shut down and eventually disappear.
- Laser therapy. Laser energy, set to a specific frequency which targets only the affected veins leaving surrounding tissues unharmed, can be used to destroy the veins.
- Ambulatory phlebectomy. Minor surgery to remove small varicose veins.
- Vein stripping. A more serious surgery, involves tying the affected veins shut and removing them.
- Vein ablation. Uses a catheter and laser or radiofrequency energy to close off the vein.
- Endoscopic surgery. A surgeon uses a tiny camera placed inside the vein to see and remove the abnormalities.
Varicose veins can cause problems ranging from a minor embarrassment to severe pain and life-threatening health conditions. Prevention is the best remedy, and early treatment can mean an easier and safer solution.
If you have varicose veins or spider veins, talk to your cosmetic surgeon about solutions today.
Dr. Hogue of the Hogue Vein Institute in North Dakota.