are enlarged and swollen blood vessels on the legs. They are generally blue or dark purple in color. In some cases there can be a feeling of cramping pain and heaviness of the limb. Sometimes these veins may rupture forming varicose ulcers on the skin.There are valves that open and close in the healthy vein to stop blood from remaining stagnant or from flowing back. When the veins are damaged the blood accumulates in the veins and makes it varicose which simply means swollen or enlarges. Varicose and spider veins can affect both men and women but it mostly affects women in the child bearing age in older people.
Causes of varicose veins
- The damage of the valves in the veins permits the blood to flow back to the heart by the contraction of the calf muscles. Sometimes there may be leaky valves in which the blood flows backwards and pools in the veins making them enlarged and swollen.
- Other causes of varicose veins include a sedentary lifestyle, pregnancy, weight gain and standing for long hours.
- Some less common causes of varicose veins are diseases like phlebitis which is inflammation of veins and blood clots caused by some obstruction in the veins. There can also be a few infants born with congenital abnormalities of the veins.
Many people do not have any physical symptoms. Symptoms include pain, cramps, itching, tirednessand pressure sensation on the varicose veins.
Other less common and more severe symptoms of the venous disease in varicose veins are bleeding, skin ulcers and oozing skin disease.
Treatment of varicose veins
Research has been done for the treatment of varicose veins through three types of treatment — closing the veins with a laser, by injecting a drug called foam into the veins and by surgically removing the inflamed vein. The outcomes of this research after six months revealed that laser therapy was the best option to treat varicose veins. It was also found during the research process that all the three methods of treatment reduced the major symptoms of varicose veins but, it was found that there are fewer complications after laser therapy.
involves injecting medicines into a blood vessel. This medicine blocks the flow of the blood by thickening the vessel walls. Studies show that foam does not completely close the vein with leaky valves. The success rate of foam is less with the increase in size of the veins. The side effects of this therapy will depend on the type of substance injected. It can cause allergic reactions which can become severe at times. In some cases if the needle is not inserted properly the skin may get burnt or there may be permanent scar on the skin. In rare cases foam treatment or sclerotherapy can lead to formation of blood clots
The removal of varicose veins is good for people who have anatomical problems like veins that are very close to the skin or are larger than 20 millimeters in diameter. The main side effects of this therapy are the potential side effects of any surgery performed under anaesthesia and possibilities of post-operative infection. There can also be formation of blood clots.
is the procedure that uses heat that is generated by laser to seal the damaged veins and diverting the flow of the blood into the healthier veins. The process involves the inserting of a catheter into the saphenous vein (larger vein) and by closing it with the heat generated by the laser. This treatment is found to be less painful and there is quicker recovery time than surgery.Laser therapy is found to work better than foam and surgery on larger veins as the success rate is found to be much higher in laser therapy. There can be temporary discolouration of the skin after laser therapy.
Prevention of varicose veins
It is not possible to prevent varicose veins from forming but the formations can be delayed and the condition of existing varicose veins can be prevented from getting worse. It is advised by experts that people should avoid sitting and standing for long hours without taking short breaks. One should not cross legs while sitting and keep the legs raised when sitting, sleeping and resting.
Losing weight decreases the weight on the legs and is helpful in preventing varicose veins.
Regular exercise will also be helpful in preventing varicose veins.