Varicose veins are blue, enlarged and sometimes painful veins seen near the skin’s surface, often in the legs. Together with deeper veins, these superficial veins (veins near the surface of the skin) help blood flow throughout the body. Blood normally moves from the superficial to the deep veins using a series of valves to keep the blood flowing in one direction. However, when the valves become weak, the blood flow reverses, moving back to the superficial veins. Over time, as pressure on the superficial veins increases, they fill up with blood, resulting in varicose veins. Equipped with the latest technology, the vascular care team at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital perform use minimally invasive techniques and offer the greatest level of comfort to treatment and prevent varicose veins.
Common Risk Factors and Symptoms
You could be at risk of developing varicose veins due to several factors, including age, family history and gender — they generally run in the family and occur more often in women. The risk also increases for those who are overweight, pregnant or stand or sit for long periods of time.
In addition to being aware common risk factors, it’s important to know the warning signs of varicose veins. If you have any of the following symptoms, consult your medical provider to find out if you have developed varicose veins:
- Blue or dark purple veins
- Burning or swelling in the lower legs
- Changes in color of the veins
- Hardening of the veins
- Heaviness or pain in the legs
- Intense pain after standing or sitting for extended period of time
- Itching or irritation around one or more of the veins
Options for Treating Varicose Veins
Varicose veins can cause pain in the legs, making them achy, itchy, heavy, swollen. The legs also may cramp and tire easily or even develop sores. If untreated, varicose veins can result in chronic swelling and leg ulcers. Our vascular surgeons can help relieve leg pain and reduce varicose veins through various surgical procedures. They also may remove venous malformations, which are tumor-like, unsightly and large enough to put one’s health at risk. Two common treatment options include:
- Endoluminal vein surgery: A minimally invasive procedure in which the vascular surgeon inserts a needle into the affected vein and closes the weak area using high frequency doses of light.
- Mini-incisional varicectomy: A procedure in which all the prominent varicosities are removed through several tiny (2.0-mm) incisions. It is performed under local anesthesia and intravenous sedation on an outpatient basis. Patients can usually resume normal activities within 3-6 days depending on the extent of their varicose vein problem.
Ways to Prevent Varicose Veins
Thankfully, there are ways to relieve the pressure and pain of varicose veins or to prevent them from forming altogether. If you suffer from varicose veins, try the following tips:
- Avoid high heels and clothes that are tight around the waist and hips.
- Change positions often when standing or sitting.
- Exercise regularly. Walking is especially good.
- Keep a healthy weight.
- Keep legs propped up while sitting and don't cross your legs.
- Sleep with the foot of the bed elevated, with your feet higher than your head.
- Stretch your calves by going up on your toes.