What Are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are an unsightly, yet common, condition among both women and men. Characterized by raised, swollen veins, this complication typically occurs in the legs and feet, and are most common in the elderly, the obese, women who have given birth and individuals with a family history of varicose veins. In most cases, varicose veins are primarily a cosmetic problem and do not pose any serious risks to physical health and wellness. However, this condition can be symptomatic of a bigger problem, such as issues within the circulatory system. Also, varicose veins can often lead to pain and discomfort in the affected areas, which may prompt some sufferers to seek treatment.
The primary reasons for treating varicose veins include relieving pain and discomfort and reducing the risks of certain side effects and complications. These complications may vary in their severity, but most often include the following:
Blood clots: By far the most serious of complications associated with varicose veins, blood clots may occur as a result of insufficient blood flow in affected areas. If left untreated, blood clots can become extremely painful and may even lead to stroke or other potentially-harmful conditions.
Ulcers: Like blood clots, ulcers as a result of varicose veins can be very painful and often require medical attention. Caused by a buildup of fluid due to varicose veins, ulcers are often preceded by discoloration of the skin in affected areas.
When it comes to treating varicose veins, a number of methods may be used. First of all, a physician will assess the severity of the condition through diagnostic procedures that typically include a physical exam and/or ultrasound imaging. This will help determine whether or not blood clots are present, which can also help determine the type of treatment necessary. The most common types of methods used to treat varicose veins include the following:
Sclerotherapy: This treatment involves injections in the affected areas which will cause varicose veins to collapse and dissolve. Sclerotherapy is almost always effective and often yields results in the few weeks following treatment. Laser therapies. During laser treatments, light beams are used to seal off varicose veins, which leads to their eventual fading or disappearance. One of the most common treatments for this condition, laser therapy does not require any injections or incisions. Surgical removal. There are several different types of surgical procedures used in the removal of varicose veins, the most common of which are endoscopic vein removal and vein stripping. Both procedures are usually performed in an outpatient setting and are almost always effective at treating varicose veins and preventing related complications.
There are also many at-home methods of treating and preventing varicose veins, the most effective of which include the following:
Weight loss. Maintaining a healthy weight will not only prevent varicose veins, but will reduce pressure on damaged areas. Awareness. This includes not standing for long periods of time, elevating the legs at night and wearing supportive shoes. Compression hosiery. Compression socks and stockings can provide an enormous source of relief for pain and discomfort associated with varicose veins. These items squeeze the legs and ankles, which promotes healthy blood flow in affected areas. Compression hosiery is available at most pharmacies and is often the first course of action in the treatment of this condition.
Although varicose veins are troublesome and unsightly, the proper treatment can help reduce symptoms, ease discomfort and prevent potentially-harmful complications.