Varicose veins are a common condition that many people recognize. If you have developed varicose veins, it can feel like you have a bulging roadmap on your legs, putting a damper on your next beach trip. They may be unsightly, but are varicose veins dangerous? 

The good news is that most of the time, this condition is benign. The better news is that to keep you looking and feeling your best, varicose veins have many successful treatment methods. When are varicose veins medically problematic and what do these treatment options look like? Let’s take a closer look.

What Causes Varicose Veins?

We know exactly what causes varicose veins: increased blood pressure. The complex human circulatory system is made up of arteries that carry blood away from your heart to feed the tissues in the body. Veins return the blood from your extremities to your heart so it can be recirculated again. It’s a very efficient system, but sometimes it can malfunction.

A vein in the human body carries blood in one direction. When the valves are working properly the blood flows easily through the body’s circulatory system. But when the valves weaken within a vein the blood can pool up, causing the vein to puff out, curl up, stretch, and twist, which is called venous reflux.

A small form of varicose vein is the spider vein, which is much thinner and less noticeable. If you have varicose veins you’ll know it; they appear as bulging, rope-like veins on the extremities. Many times you can feel the vein if you run your finger over it. 

Varicose veins can pop out just about anywhere on the human body. Usually, though, varicose veins appear prominently on the legs. Women are more susceptible due to the hormonal changes they experience throughout their lifetime. A few factors can increase your susceptibility to the condition, including:

  • Aging
  • A family history of varicose veins
  • Gender, with women more likely to develop the condition
  • Obesity
  • Prolonged sitting or standing

If any of these factors apply to you, there are a few actions you can take to mitigate your risk of developing varicose veins, including losing weight. You can also elevate your legs or wear compression stockings to keep the condition from getting worse.

Do Varicose Veins Hurt?

It is true that varicose veins can be painful as well as unsightly. In fact, there are a few different uncomfortable symptoms that you may experience with this condition: 

  • Aching or a heavy feeling in your legs
  • Burning, muscle cramping, swelling, and throbbing in your lower legs
  • Itching around the varicose vein

The pain you feel could be worse if you’ve been sitting or standing for a long period of time. The skin around the varicose vein can also become discolored, which makes the area more noticeable.

In addition to pain or discomfort, varicose veins can cause complications such as ulcers or bleeding if the vein is close to the surface of the skin. While these aren’t necessarily life-threatening signs, if any of these symptoms occur, it’s important that you consult a clinical specialist as soon as you can to determine your need and process for treatment.

How Can My Doctor Treat My Varicose Veins?

A vascular specialist like Vein Care of Amelia Island’s own Dr. Kovacs can work with you to develop a treatment plan. Some varicose veins don’t require treatment, but should still be examined by a doctor to determine any necessary treatment plans.

You may be asked to make some lifestyle changes to improve the condition. Compression stockings may help. They are available over-the-counter, or your doctor can write you a prescription for stronger pressure stockings if needed.

Sclerotherapy can be used on small spider veins on the legs and thighs to eliminate them before they worsen. In this procedure, the doctor uses a tiny needle to inject a solution into the vein that causes it to turn white and gradually disappear. 

Some of the other medical interventions today can include laser treatments, radiofrequency treatments, vein stripping, or endoscopic vein surgery. You don’t have to live with varicose veins, there are several treatments available to help. There are also preventative measures to consider.

Top 7 Things You Can Do Now to Prevent Varicose Veins

While a family history may predispose you to varicose veins, there are a few things you can do right now to reduce your risk of developing the condition:

  1. Avoid high heels and tight-fitting clothes which can restrict your blood flow
  2. Change your position, alternating standing and sitting throughout the day
  3. Cut back on salt to lessen fluid retention and lower blood pressure
  4. Elevate your legs above your head several times a day to keep blood from pooling in your legs
  5. Exercise every day to improve your circulation and keep the blood flowing
  6. Stop smoking, which causes the tightening of your blood vessels and restricts blood flow
  7. Work on your weight, being careful to keep your body mass index (BMI) levels within acceptable limits

There are many factors that contribute to the development of unsightly veins. Fortunately, Vein Care Center of Amelia Island offers advanced treatment options to help you achieve the look you desire so you can feel your best with minimal downtime. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.

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