Varicose veins are enlarged, twisted, and filled with too much blood. While varicose veins can occur anywhere in the body, they’re most common in the legs, where blood must flow against gravity as it travels back to the heart. Blood is pushed through these veins by pressure from leg muscles, then one-way valves in the veins stop the blood from flowing back down towards the feet. When the valves weaken or the vein walls lose their tone, blood collects in the vein and causes the ballooning effect of varicose veins.
The following factors increase the risk of developing varicose veins:
Age: Normal wear-and-tear can weaken valves.
Pregnancy: The amount of blood in a woman’s body increases during pregnancy, which makes veins expand.
Family history: Varicose veins tend to run in families, likely due to an inherited weakness in the valves or vein walls.
Obesity: Carrying extra weight puts added pressure on leg veins.
Standing for a long time: The risk of vein or valve damage increases when blood must flow against gravity for an extended period of time.
Gender: Women are 2-3 times more likely to get varicose veins than men.
Many people with varicose veins don’t have any symptoms other than unsightly veins. However others may experience swelling of the ankles and feet, throbbing or cramping in legs, itchy skin near the veins, and achy, painful, or heavy legs.
In more serious cases, varicose veins may cause complications such as:
If you experience any of these complications, or if your varicose veins cause discomfort, please contact Consultants in Cardiology & Electrophysiology so that we can be sure your health isn’t at risk from bleeding or blood clots.
Exercising, losing weight, elevating your legs, and avoiding long periods of standing can all help ease discomfort caused by varicose veins. Compression stockings are often recommended because they help keep blood flowing.
When these methods don’t help, the doctors at Consultants in Cardiology & Electrophysiology offer advanced treatments for eliminating varicose veins. Such treatments include: sclerotherapy, laser therapy, radiofrequency or laser ablation, and ambulatory phlebectomy. Your doctor will explain your options and discuss which method is best for your unique overall health and the severity of your varicose veins.