Varicose Veins – The Rundown
You’ve probably seen them, even if you haven’t heard of them. You may even be struggling with them yourself. Varicose veins are one of the most common vein-related problems facing people today, with more than 3 million cases per year. Read on to get the rundown on this common problem – and on what you can do to get rid of varicose veins for good.
Varicose veins generally affect adults. While they are more common the older you get, they can also affect middle-aged people and even younger adults. Exactly why some people are more prone to varicose veins than others is not perfectly understood, though there are clear links between varicose veins and a few risk factors, such as pregnancy, exposure to sunlight, and family history.
What are varicose veins? Most often appearing as tangled, knotty, bulging blue veins, they generally occur in the legs and feet, though any of the body’s veins can become varicose. In short, a vein becomes varicose when the vein is damaged and blood is no longer running smoothly and efficiently through it.
More specifically, age often causes the valves in the veins to weaken, meaning that the veins actually allow some blood to flow backwards. This blood can then collect in the veins, causing bulging and swelling. It’s for this reason that varicose veins are most common in the feet and legs: veins with broken valves can’t contend against the force of gravity. Pregnant women are also often prone to varicose veins. As the Mayo Clinic’s helpful page on varicose veins explains, “Pregnancy increases the volume of blood in your body, but decreases the flow of blood from your legs to your pelvis. This circulatory change is designed to support the growing fetus, but it can produce an unfortunate side effect — enlarged veins in your legs.”
In addition to being unseemly, varicose veins can also be a symptom of larger vein-related issues. Often, varicose veins are self-contained problems – remove the problem vein, and the problem goes away. However, sometimes an underlying problem, such as venous insufficiency, causes varicose veins. Venous insufficiency occurs when the veins in your legs are not circulating your blood efficiently, causing discomfort, pain, and even tingling and weakness.
This is what they can look like:
Fortunately, even when they signify more severe problems, varicose veins are in general highly treatable. Depending on the size and severity of your varicose veins, as well as what other venous issues you are presenting, a number of treatment options exist. For larger varicose veins, surgeries such as microphlebectomy are often the most effective course of treatment. However, invasive surgery is not the only option. Sclerotherapy is another popular option for taking care of varicose veins. Sclerotherapy consists of an injection designed to painlessly collapse the problem vein, allowing deeper, stronger veins to more efficiently carry the blood the damaged vein was attempting to.
In short, while varicose veins can be problematic and painful, don’t lose hope if self-care therapies don’t work – a number of more serious treatment options are available, too. If you can’t seem to get your varicose veins to go away, and you’re in the Miami Beach area, why not contact us at Miami Beach Vein Institute today?