Varicose veins are veins that are abnormally dilated, twisted, or thickened. These can form anywhere in the body but form especially in the legs.
Most varicose veins form when the valves in the veins are damaged or defective. The valves help keep the blood in the vein moving towards the heart, preventing backflow. When these valves are faulty, there is backflow of blood or reflux into the veins. This in turn causes the blood to pool and the veins to dilate, perforate, and bulge.
Varicose veins are oftentimes a cosmetic nuisance because they protrude and bulge under the skin. Some people can experience discomfort with them, such as leg cramps, pain with standing, burning, itching, bleeding, skin ulcers, and a heaviness in the legs. These symptoms are usually aggravated with prolonged standing and during pregnancy or menstruation. Other aggravating factors are obesity, chronic constipation, urinary retention from an enlarged prostate, chronic cough, trauma, and advanced age.
Superficial phlebitis is a complication of varicose veins. It is a condition where a blood clot forms along with inflammation in a superficial vein. It is usually associated with pain, tenderness, redness, and swelling. The area may feel firm and hard. It is not an emergent condition and does not need hospitalization. However, if a patient develops any of these symptoms then they should seek medical attention in order to make sure there is no deep venous thrombosis present.
What Can I Do About My Varicose Veins?
There are numerous treatment options for varicose veins.
- Sclerotherapy is a common one that involves injecting a chemical into the vein causing it to obliterate and scar.
- Endovascular laser treatment is one that is minimally invasive and uses an ultrasound guided laser to destroy the vein.
- Radiofrequency ablation is also minimally invasive and uses heat to destroy the vein.
- Vein Stripping is an invasive surgery where the veins are cut out
- Vein Ligation is also invasive and involves tying off the veins and eliminating blood flow
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