Varicose Veins: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment
Did you know that up to 50% of the population has varicose veins and continuing vein abnormalities? Veins issues can be completely symptom free or you may experience mild symptoms in the beginning such as spider veins. If your vein issues are chronic or left untreated, varicose veins can potentially progress to skin breakdown or even non-healing wounds or ulcers.
At Risk Groups
Given how common varicose veins are, it’s important to know if you may be someone at risk for this condition. At risk groups include:
- Seniors (the older you are, the more likely you are to have this condition)
- Overweight or obese individuals
- Non-active individuals
- Very active individuals
- Individuals who stand for prolonged periods of time
- Individuals on estrogen replacement therapy
- Individuals with a family history of varicose veins
- Moms who have had multiple pregnancies
- Individuals with injuries to their leg
- Those who have experienced clots in the veins of their legs
Now that we’ve identified who’s at risk for varicose veins, what symptoms should you look for? While there is a broad range of symptoms, the most common symptoms include:
- Pain in the thighs and/or legs
- Leg heaviness and/or aching or itching
- Leg swelling that progresses during the day
- Skin dryness, tightness
- Irritation or muscle cramps
In more severe situations, your skin color may become blue, gray or dark. In the most extreme cases, you may get wounds or ulcers that don’t seem to respond to traditional care treatments.
Varicose veins are generally identified with an outpatient ultrasound test called a venous insufficiency study which generally takes 60-90 minutes to complete.
There are several treatment options for varicose veins, including:
- Appropriately fitting compression stockings
- Sclerotherapy - a nonthermal ablative procedure where medication is injected into the vein to close it.
- Thermal ablative procedures - a laser in placed within the vein and heat is used to create inflammation which closes the vein.
In general, one treatment will create dramatic improvement in the appearance and feeling of your legs. In certain situations, providers may perform microphlebectomy, which is an outpatient procedure to surgically remove segments of varicose veins.
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