Dr. Shirvani is a vascular surgery doctor serving the DFW metroplex. If you are having any pain or issues related to your veins or arteries contact his office for a consultation.
Varicose veins don’t just cause pain and other problems in the body, they are unattractive. This condition involves twisted, enlarged veins in your legs and feet that cause social anxiety for some people. Women are more likely to develop varicose veins, and they affect 23 percent of Americans.
It is possible for any vein to become varicose because walking and standing upright tends to increase the internal pressure in the veins of the lower body. Occasionally varicose veins are surrounded by areas of flooded capillaries called spider veins because they look similar to a spider’s web.
Often, they are only a cosmetic concern, but varicose veins can really affect your quality of life. Sometimes they are a sign of more serious health problems. People with varicose veins also have a higher risk of additional circulatory issues. Those that have them often wear long pants even during the summer so that they can hide their varicose veins.
The veins in your legs include a deep, interior venous system and rarely an internal vein may become varicose. Usually, you cannot see these varicose veins, but they may swell causing leg pain. Blood clots can also develop in these areas.
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Varicose Veins Causes
Arteries are the network of paths that carry blood throughout your body to the rest of your organs and tissues. Veins return the blood from everywhere in your body to your heart, allowing the blood to recirculate.
The veins in your legs have a difficult job as they carry blood while working against gravity. A sequence of valves helps this process and are associated with a related condition known as Chronic Venous Insufficiency or CVI. As the blood travels through the veins, these valves open to let the blood through and then swiftly close, preventing the backflow of blood.
The valve issue may be hereditary or because of destruction to the valve after a blood clot or DVT. This condition can affect around 40 percent of people in the U.S. and is more common in middle-age or older people.
Here are two causes of varicose veins.
- Pregnancy- increases the amount of blood in the body. However, it decreases the blood flow all the way from your legs up to your pelvis. Unfortunately, since the body is supporting a growing baby this may cause the veins in your legs to enlarge from the added pressure. Varicose veins may appear for the first time during pregnancy and worsen later as the uterus puts more pressure on the veins.Hormone changes can also contribute to this condition. Varicose veins from pregnancy usually improve without treatment anywhere from 3-12 months after birth.
- Age- also affects the veins in your body and they lose their elasticity. This causes them to stretch, and the valves may weaken allowing the backflow of blood. As the blood gathers in your veins, they enlarge, becoming varicose. Their blue appearance comes from the deoxygenated blood that is recirculating throughout the lungs and body.
- Heavy, sore, tender, or aching legs. Most of the time there is also swelling in the feet or ankles after standing a long time.
- Protruding dark blue or purple blood vessels that are easy to see on the calf or thigh.
- Itching in the area of your veins
- Muscle cramping, burning or throbbing in the lower half of your legs
- Color changes, skin ulcers or inflammation close to your ankle, and vein hardening are also signs of a serious vascular disease requiring immediate medical attention
Know When to Call Your Doctor
If your symptoms increase to the point of incapacitation. Call us if the skin directly over your veins becomes discolored, prone to bleeding, ulcerated, or flaky as this may be the beginning of stasis dermatitis. This condition may lead to chronic leg ulcers and skin infections.
Warm, tender or red varicose veins could signal phlebitis, a condition caused by the development of a blood clot in one of the veins. You should seek assistance if one of your varicose veins is injured. Apply direct pressure and elevate your legs to control the burst of blood. This complication to your problem may be serious.
Risk Factors for Varicose Veins
- Obesity- People that are overweight place more pressure on the veins in their body.
- Age- Risk increases with age because it causes more wear on the valves within our veins. Eventually, the valves begin to fail, allowing the backflow of blood into the veins. It collects there instead of moving to the heart.
- Family History- Unfortunately, if other members in your family have varicose veins, you are more likely to get them too.
- Sitting or Standing for a Long Time- If you lead a sedentary lifestyle or your job requires you to sit or stand for long periods of time, your blood does not flow as well.
- Sex- Women are the most likely to develop varicose veins. Hormonal changes in the body like those during premenstruation, menopause, or pregnancy tend to be a factor because they make the vein walls relax.
Varicose veins are relatively easy to diagnose. We will perform a physical exam to look at your legs. This is done while you are standing to evaluate swelling. We may perform an ultrasound test to check if the valves in the veins are working normally or if a blood clot may be present. This test produces images of your veins on a monitor so that we can see them.
The good thing is that typically, varicose veins do not require a long recovery or hospital stay. Less invasive procedures allow us to treat you in our office.
There are things that you can do on your own such as not wearing constricting clothes, losing weight, exercising regularly, maintaining mobility to keep from sitting or standing extended periods of time, and elevating your legs. Compression socks are another treatment option.
These stockings squeeze your legs steadily allowing your leg muscles and veins to carry blood efficiently. There are different levels of compression, and they vary by brand and type of stocking.
For More Severe Cases
There are several options for treatment for serious varicose vein problems. They include Sclerotherapy and foam sclerotherapy, laser surgeries, ambulatory phlebectomy, endoscopic vein surgery, vein stripping, and high ligation.
There are also catheter-assisted procedures that use laser energy or radiofrequency. We will go over these procedures in detail if we feel they are necessary for your treatment.