Did you know that more than 23 percent of adults are affected by varicose veins? It surprises many people to learn that one in every four adults in the US suffers from this condition.
Varicose veins are twisted, enlarged veins. They announce themselves as bulging, bluish cords beneath the surface of your skin. Any superficial vein can become varicose, but they usually affect the legs and feet.
Women are more susceptible than men, and they usually appear in older adults affecting 22 million women and 11 million men between the ages of 40 to 80 years.
So if you’re currently suffering from varicose veins, don’t worry, they are a lot more common than you think and there is a wide variety of treatments and remedies available.
What are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are part of the spectrum of chronic venous disease. They’re divided into three types: spider telangiectasia, reticular veins, and true varicosities.
Varicose veins are a lot more visible and enlarged than spider veins, which are usually nothing more than a simple cosmetic concern.
Besides the notable appearance in the skin, varicose veins can sometimes cause aching pain and discomfort. In some instances, they may lead to more severe problems.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
Veins rely on the surrounding muscles and one-way valves to push blood back to your heart
In varicose veins, the valves don’t function properly. This malfunction allows blood to pool in the vein and makes it difficult for the muscles to push the blood “uphill.”
Any condition that puts extra pressure on the legs or abdomen can lead to varicose veins.
Are you at Risk?
Experts are still not sure what causes the valves in the veins to malfunction, but they have identified certain factors that can put you at risk.
Amongst the factors linked to a higher risk of developing varicose veins are:
- Gender – Women are more affected than men,
- Genetics – They often run in families,
- Age – The risk increases with age, due to the wear and tear of vein valves, and
- Certain types of jobs – Jobs that require the individual to be standing up most of the time.
Know the Signs and Symptoms
There are obvious signs and symptoms that will let you know you are developing varicose veins, amongst these are:
- Veins look twisted and swollen (bulging),
- The color of the veins is dark blue or purple,
- Some patients may experience aching pain,
- Legs might feel heavy (especially after exercise or at night),
- A minor injury in the affected area may lead to prolonged bleeding,
- Swollen ankles,
- Spider veins,
- Venous eczema — When the skin turns dry and itchy,
- Leg cramps when you stand up,
- Atrophie blanche — White patches that resemble a scar in the ankles, and
- Restless Leg Syndrome.
Non-Surgical Treatment Options
Most of the time, you can prevent or treat varicose veins with non-surgical treatments or at-home remedies. Here are a few procedures that can help you:
- Practice low impact exercises like swimming, walking, cycling, or doing yoga.
- Use compression stockings.
- Eat foods that are high in potassium to help reduce water retention.
- Herbal Remedies – Horse Chestnut extract (reduces leg pain and heaviness), Sea Pine extract (reduces leg swelling or edema), and Grape seed extract (reduces swelling).
- Keep legs elevated ideally at the height of the heart or above to improve circulation.
- Massage – Use a moisturizer or massage oil to keep blood moving through the veins.
Surgical Treatment Options
All of the above self-care treatments are great, but if you’ve tried all of the above and still feel pain or are concerned about the way your veins look and feel, it may be time to see a doctor.
Sometimes, an invasive procedure, such as surgery might be needed.
The most common surgical treatment is vein ligation and stripping that will require anesthesia and consists of your surgeon cutting the varicose vein and removing it through the incision.
Another commonly used surgical treatment is laser surgery.
Some other less invasive treatments that don’t necessarily mean surgery but still require you to visit a doctor include:
- Endothermal Ablation,
- Ambulatory Phlebectomy,
- Sclerotherapy, and
- Treatment for varicose veins with Varithena.
If You Have Varicose Veins, It’s Not the End of the World
Now that you’ve read this article, you know that varicose veins are more common than you thought, and they are not serious in most cases.
If you have any of the symptoms above, try some of the non-surgical remedies. If visiting a doctor will make you feel more at ease, visit your physician, and they’ll recommend you with the best approach for your case.