Different Methods Of Treating Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are abnormally swollen or enlarged blood vessels caused by a weakening in the vein's wall, which often lead to pain and swelling in the leg. Varicose veins occur from the backward flow of blood in the legs caused by damaged or diseased valves in the veins. In the past, when the largest superficial veins were involved, the only alternative was surgery to strip the defective vein, a procedure that involves making an incision in the skin and either tying off or removing the blood vessel.

Varicose and smaller spider veins affect an estimated 80 million adults in the U.S. For some, they're simply a cosmetic concern. But for many others, varicose veins can cause significant pain and discomfort. Sometimes they even lead to more serious problems. Varicose veins run in families and are more common in women. They often ache, sometimes itch, and usually cause swelling and pain in the feet and ankles.

The exact cause of spider and varicose veins is unknown, although heredity, pregnancy and hormonal changes are believed to be contributing factors. As people age, these unsightly veins become more common and often more pronounced. Forty-one percent of women aged 40-50 years old have varicose veins, increasing to 72% of women aged 60-70 years old. Among men aged 30-40 years old, 24% have varicose veins, increasing to 43% among 70-year-old men.

After the blood has delivered oxygen throughout the body, veins carry it back toward the heart. Veins have one-way valves to keep gravity from pulling the blood downward. In varicose veins, the valves leak. Accumulated blood at these leak sites stretches the vein, and pools of it cause lumps and kinks. The veins affected are just under the skin, so you can clearly see the enlarged and twisted portions.

As you get older, though, your veins can lose elasticity, causing them to stretch and balloon out. When that happens, the one-way valves may not function properly. Blood that should be moving toward your heart may flow backward, stretching the walls of the veins that may then become visible as varicose veins

You may have symptoms even before varicose veins appear. Symptoms can include an achy or heavy feeling in your legs and burning, throbbing, muscle cramping and swelling in your lower legs. Prolonged sitting or standing tends to make your legs feel worse.

Bulging varicose veins are often accompanied by itching around the vein. In more advanced stages, open sores (ulcers) may develop around the ankle area. Ulcers represent a severe form of vascular disease and require immediate attention.

A number of surgical treatment options are used to improve vein conditions. All treatments are intended to remove or destroy a defective vein so that its function can be quickly taken over by healthy veins.

Fortunately, treatment usually doesn't mean a hospital stay or a long, uncomfortable recovery. New and less invasive techniques generally allow varicose veins to be dealt with on an outpatient basis. In most cases, leg compression is recommended with one or more treatment methods, lifestyle recommendations might include:

Minor problems may improve if you take regular walks, avoid long periods of standing, and rest with your feet elevated. Your doctor may suggest wearing elastic stockings to support the veins. If so, put them on right away in the morning before blood and fluid have pooled in your feet and ankles.

Shedding excess pounds takes unnecessary pressure off your veins.

Avoid high heels. Low-heeled shoes work calf muscles more, which is better for veins. Don't wear tight clothes around your calves or groin. Tight panty-leg girdles, for instance, can restrict circulation.

Take three or four 10- to 15-minute breaks daily to elevate your legs above the level of your heart (for example, by lying down with your legs resting on three or four pillows) . Make a point of changing your position frequently to encourage blood flow.

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