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Everything You Need To Know About Varicose Veins

Jan 26, 2008
Varicose veins are veins that are twisted and enlarged. They typically develop in the legs and ankles and lie near the surface of the skin.

Varicose veins are a common condition and are not a sign of any serious or life-threatening medical problem. In some cases however, varicose veins are an indication of a blockage in the deeper veins. Called deep vein thrombosis, this condition calls for a medical evaluation and possible treatment.

Causes

Vein walls that have become weak and the presence of faulty valves in the veins are the main causes of varicose veins.

All veins have one-way valves that act as a buffer against gravity and keep the blood flowing efficiently towards the heart. If the valve is defective, the blood accumulates and pools up, causing a build-up of pressure. This results in a condition known as venous insufficiency, in which the veins in that area become enlarged, weakened and twisted.

Some people are more prone to developing varicose veins and this could be due to a combination of aging as well as to inherited characteristics or genetics. Other factors that increase the chances of getting varicose veins include conditions that tend to increase pressure on the veins of the legs such as having an occupation that requires standing for extended periods of time, being highly overweight or pregnancy.

Symptoms

The primary symptom of varicose veins is the unusual appearance of the veins. Varicose veins appear dark blue, twisted and swollen and are markedly visible through the skin. An individual suffering from varicose veins may also experience a persistent heavy, achy and tired feeling in the legs. These symptoms usually get worse after sitting or standing for extended periods of time. There is usually also a change in skin color in and around the skin color accompanied by dry thinned skin. Minor injury to the area can result in bleeding as well as ulcerations or open sores.

Sometimes a blood clot and inflammation can develop in a small vein that lies near the surface of the skin. This is referred to as superficial thrombophlebitis.

Treatment

Regular exercise and maintaining an ideal weight along with other self-care measures such as elevating the legs whenever possible and wearing compression stockings help relieve the swelling and other symptoms. They also stem the progress of the varicose veins and keep them from worsening.

Persistent symptoms or worsening of symptoms calls for medical treatment, which could include endovenous laser, sclerotherapy or surgery. Sometimes radiofrequency treatment is carried out in which heat is used to close off the varicose veins, preventing it from getting worse.
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