If you enjoy the beach, like many Florida residents and visitors to the state, you’ve probably seen varicose veins, prominent rope-like veins that can develop on the legs. You may have also noticed spider veins – which are thin red, purple, or blue appearing veins – that can also appear on the legs.
From a cosmetic perspective, varicose veins can be concerning to many. Varicose veins may also cause discomfort, such as aching, heaviness, and fatigue in legs. So, what are the main causes of varicose veins?
What are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins can be both painful and disfiguring but are generally harmless. However, they can cause legs to feel heavy, tired, achy, and itchy. The data tells us that 23% of all adults experience varicose veins; that’s one in four American adults that have this problem.
Veins return blood from your legs to your heart. The veins are lined with small valves that open and close to help push the blood up through the vein. If these valves become weak, a portion of the blood will go back down the vein. This is called venous reflux. Venous reflux can cause the vein to overfill with blood and become enlarged and visible on the legs. It is also responsible for the symptoms of aching and throbbing often associated with varicose veins.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
The following are risk factors associated with the development of varicose veins:
- Genetics and family history
- Gender (women are more prone to varicose veins)
- Normal aging process
- Standing for long periods
When Should You Call Your Doctor?
There are several reasons to seek treatment for varicose veins:
- The visible veins are cosmetically concerning.
- Aching, fatigue, throbbing, itching of the legs.
- Darkening of the skin, dryness, or wounds of the lower legs.
- Red, warm, or suddenly painful varicose veins which could signal a more serious condition known as phlebitis, which is caused by a blood clot in the vein.
- Bleeding from a varicosity.
How Can Varicose Veins Be Treated?
Mild cases of varicose veins may not require treatment unless you are seeking cosmetic relief.
You can practice self-care by:
- Utilizing compression stockings
- Maintaining healthy body weight
- Elevating your legs when possible
If your varicose veins are causing you physical or cosmetic discomfort or distress, contact your doctor who can help alleviate the problem.
Clinical Care for Varicose Veins
There are several options for treatment of varicose veins.
- Compression stockings can be purchased over-the-counter or, depending on the type of stocking, with a prescription. Compression stockings help your leg muscles push the blood upward toward the heart with gradually decreasing pressure from the ankles to the thighs.
- Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories can often alleviate symptoms associated with varicose veins.
- Endovenous radiofrequency ablation is a catheter-assisted method that uses radiofrequency waves to close dysfunctional veins.
- Microphlebectomy involves making tiny punctures to directly remove varicose veins.
- Sclerotherapy – injection of a solution directly into the veins – can be utilized for treatment of both underlying venous reflux and cosmetically concerning varicosities.
- Vein stripping is a surgical procedure used to treat varicose veins which is performed the hospital and is not commonly utilized.
Most procedures performed for the treatment of varicose veins are performed in our office. There are typically minimal post-procedure restrictions and patients are able to quickly return to their daily lives.
Vascular Specialists of Central Florida is devoted to treating the body’s arteries and veins. We provide the highest quality care and caring to our patients suffering from varicose veins and other vascular health issues. To find out more about our sclerotherapy treatment and how it can help, watch this video from one of our patients about how she responded to our care.