What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are the result of venous insufficiency, which develops when your veins can’t keep the oxygen-depleted blood moving back toward your heart. In healthy veins, the valves keep blood from pooling or even slipping backward, away from your heart.
Due to aging or a person’s underlying health issues, some valves may not work as they should, and blood can move backward in the vein until it reaches valves that are functioning correctly.
Typically, varicose veins develop in your legs because blood needs to fight against gravity to move back up to your heart. As the blood pools, it causes the vein to enlarge and bulge under the surface of your skin.
You may also be at increased risk for varicose veins due to:
- Family history
- Inactive lifestyle
Varicose veins may also be the result of deep vein thrombosis, a blood clot that forms in a vein deep within your body.
What are the symptoms of varicose veins?
Varicose veins appear as large, ropey bulges that may be blue or purple in color. The veins can be twisted and painful.
People with varicose veins also may experience:
- Leg heaviness
- Leg pain
- Visible varicose veins
- Restless leg
- Skin discoloration
- Venous ulceration
- Chronic skin changes
Your symptoms may get worse if you stand for extended periods of time, especially on hard surfaces.
In addition to physical symptoms, you may be embarrassed by the bulging, discolored appearance of these unsightly veins.
Why did I develop varicose veins?
The propensity to develop varicose veins often runs in families. Other risk factors include:
- Older age
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Excessive sun exposure
Anyone can develop varicose veins, but a healthy diet, exercising regularly, avoiding long periods of standing, and elevating your legs can help prevent them.
What tests are used to diagnose venous insufficiency?
- History and physical exam
- MRI / CT
How are varicose veins treated?
Conservative treatment for varicose veins includes losing weight, if you’re overweight, avoiding long periods of sitting or standing, and elevating your legs when you’re sitting down. You may also get relief from wearing medical-grade compression stockings, which ease pressure on the veins.
When conservative treatments don’t help you find relief, sclerotherapy and endovenous laser therapy may be options. During sclerotherapy, injections of saline solution destroy faulty veins. Endovenous laser therapy uses laser energy to target larger varicose veins and damage their walls.
When varicose veins are destroyed, your body gradually absorbs them and redirects blood flow to healthier veins. Swelling, cramping, and discoloration fades away so your legs feel and look healthier.
If you need treatment for varicose veins, reach out to Louisiana Heart & Vascular Institute Vein Care Centers. Call today or use this website to make an appointment.