Varicose veins are a common yet surprisingly treatable condition that affects millions of people worldwide. While these visible, bulging veins may appear harmless, they're actually a sign of an underlying issue with the valves in your leg veins that cause blood to flow inefficiently.
This article explains why varicose veins form and what treatments are available for them.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are the result of weakened valves in the leg veins that allow blood to backflow and accumulate instead of flowing in one direction towards the heart. This backflow causes the pressure in your veins to increase, leading to bulging, twisted, or swollen areas known as varicose veins.
While anyone can get varicose veins, they are more common in women than men and often run in families. Genetics plays a major role in the development of varicose veins, as some people are born with weakened vein walls and valves that prevent blood from properly flowing through them.
Obesity increases the risk of developing varicose veins because it puts more pressure on the body's veins and makes it harder for them to regulate blood flow correctly. Pregnancy also causes increased pressure on the veins due to weight gain during pregnancy.
Age is another contributing factor as veins become weaker and less elastic over time. Additionally, standing or sitting for extended periods can cause increased pressure in certain parts of the body which can lead to varicose veins. Lastly, wearing tight clothing can disrupt normal blood flow and put extra strain on the walls of your veins.
What Are the Treatment Options for Varicose Veins?
The good news is that several treatments are available for varicose veins ranging from short-term solutions like compression stockings or lifestyle changes like increased exercise to long-term treatments such as laser ablation or sclerotherapy.
Compression stockings help improve circulation by providing extra support for your leg muscles while you're on your feet throughout the day. Lifestyle changes such as increasing your activity level can also make a difference because when you move around regularly, it helps keep the blood circulating properly instead of pooling in one area.
For more serious cases of varicose veins, there are minimally invasive procedures like laser ablation, which involve using a laser beam delivered through a tiny incision near the affected vein to collapse and seal it shut. Sclerotherapy is another procedure where a special medicine is injected into the affected vein, causing it to start healing itself and eventually fade away over time.
Varicose veins can worsen over time, which is why early intervention and treatment are key. If you have any concerns about your veins, it's best to see a medical professional for an evaluation and tailored treatment plan. Taking these steps now can help you stay healthy and prevent the condition from progressing.