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Varicose Veins

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Varicose Veins are enlarged veins that are swollen and raised above the surface of the skin. They can be dark purple or blue, and look twisted and bulging. Varicose veins are commonly found on the backs of the calves or on the inside of the leg. They develop when valves in the veins that allow blood to flow toward the heart stop working properly. As a result, blood pools in the veins and causes them to get larger.

Varicose veins affect 1 out of 2 people over age 50. They are more common in women than men. Hemorrhoids are a type of varicose vein. Spider veins are like varicose veins, but they are smaller.

Exercising, losing weight, elevating your legs when resting and not crossing them when sitting can help keep varicose veins from getting worse. Wearing loose clothing and avoiding long periods of standing can also help. If varicose veins are painful or you don't like the way they look, your doctor may recommend procedures to remove them.

What causes Varicose Veins ?

More women suffer from varicose veins than men do.  There are a number of reasons varicose veins may form, including:

  • Standing for extended periods of time
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Hereditary factors (if your mother had varicose veins, there is a likelihood you will too!)
  • Hormonal changes experienced during menopause
  • History of previous vein diseases

What Are Varicose Veins And Spider Veins ?

Veins can bulge with pools of blood when they fail to circulate the blood properly. These visible and bulging veins, called varicose veins, are more common in the legs and thighs, but can develop anywhere in the body.

Large Varicose Veins can be visible, bulging, palpable (can be felt by touching), long, and dilated (greater than 4 millimeters in diameter).
Small "Spider Veins" also can appear on the skin's surface. These may look like short, fine lines, "starburst" clusters, or a web-like maze. They are typically not palpable. Spider veins are most common in the thighs, ankles, and feet. They may also appear on the face. The medical term for them spider veins is Telangiectasias.

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Picture Of Varicose Veins

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Picture of Spider Veins

Varicose Vein Symptoms

Varicose veins are relatively easy to identify and can be a cosmetic nuisance for many people.

  • They protrude or bulge from under the skin and feel ropey.
  • The legs often ache and feel heavy and itchy.
  • Symptoms can intensify after a long day of standing on one's feet.
  • One may have severe pain upon standing or even have cramps in the legs at night.

Varicose veins can be more prominent or first appear during menstruation or pregnancy, and they may be more bothersome during these times.

Some people may have no symptoms at all. For most people, varicose veins are mainly a cosmetic problem.

Varicose Vein Treatments

  • Sclerotherapy. In this procedure, your doctor injects small- and medium-sized varicose veins with a solution that scars and closes those veins. In a few weeks, treated varicose veins should fade. Although the same vein may need to be injected more than once, sclerotherapy is effective if done correctly. Sclerotherapy doesn't require anesthesia and can be done in your doctor's office.
  • Laser surgeries. Doctors are using new technology in laser treatments to close off smaller varicose veins and spider veins. Laser surgery works by sending strong bursts of light onto the vein, which makes the vein slowly fade and disappear. No incisions or needles are used.
  • Catheter-assisted procedures. In one of these treatments, your doctor inserts a thin tube (catheter) into an enlarged vein and heats the tip of the catheter. As the catheter is pulled out, the heat destroys the vein by causing it to collapse and seal shut. This procedure is usually done for larger varicose veins.
  • Vein stripping. This procedure involves removing a long vein through small incisions. This is an outpatient procedure for most people. Removing the vein won't affect circulation in your leg because veins deeper in the leg take care of the larger volumes of blood.
  • Ambulatory phlebectomy (fluh-BEK-to-me). Your doctor removes smaller varicose veins through a series of tiny skin punctures. Only the parts of your leg that are being pricked are numbed in this outpatient procedure. Scarring is generally minimal.
  • Endoscopic vein surgery. You might need this operation only in an advanced case involving leg ulcers. Your surgeon uses a thin video camera inserted in your leg to visualize and close varicose veins, and then removes the veins through small incisions. This procedure is performed on an outpatient basis.

Other Varicose Veins Treatment

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