Varicose veins can affect a wide range of people, including men, athletes, pregnant women, and those in generally good health. This means that even if you're in great shape, you're not immune to varicose veins. Active and fit individuals are often shocked to see swollen veins in their legs, thinking the dreaded condition only affects those who are overweight and obese.
While walking, your leg muscles pump blood back to your heart through one-way valves. If you have vein disease, those valves don't function properly, allowing some blood to flow backward and pool in your legs. This causes the bulging of veins and symptoms, including discomfort, fatigue, and even sometimes redness in the affected area. This is how varicose veins develop.
Women are more prone to developing varicose veins than men, especially during pregnancy. When a woman is pregnant, the added weight puts pressure on the abdominal and pelvic veins thus resulting in elevated pressure in their leg veins. Hormones associated with pregnancy are also known to weaken and dilate vein walls.
Genetics is also a factor. You are more likely to get varicose veins if your mother or father had vein disease. Another group prone to develoing varicose veins inlude anyone who stands or sits for long periods of time, i.e nurses, teachers, chefs, bus/taxi/truck drivers, and people in retail. Blood pooling occurs in the legs from prolonged standing or sitting, resulting in higher chance of developing vein disease. Obeseity is another factor that increases the risk for developing varicose veins. Also, as you age, so do the vein valves that prevent blood from pooling in the legs, thus increasing your chances of having varicose veins.
While being physically fit doesn't guarantee you won't have varicose veins, regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight help prevent them. It's also crucial to avoid standing for extended periods. If you sit long periods of time for work or leisure, it helps to raise your legs or get up and walk around regularly. This prevents blood from building up in the veins and can help decrease any swelling that might otherwise occur. But if you already have varicose veins, they won't disappear by doing these measures.
Varicose vein treatment has dramatically evolved over the past two decades. Most vein specialists now perform less invasive treatments including Radiofrequency ablation (RFA), endovenous laser ablation, Venaseal, Varithena, and sclerotherapy.
Radiofrequency ablation is one of the most common procedures performed for the treatment of varicose veins and venous insufficiency. It involves comfortably placing a radiofrequency catheter into a saphenous vein, like the great saphenous vein. Once the catheter is placed, local anesthetic is placed along the vein. The vein is then ablated using radiofrequency energy. Over the following months, the vein is then slowly resorbed and disappears.
Sclerotherapy is also a common procedure used to treat varicose veins and spider veins. It is performed by vein specialists and involves injecting a solution into the dilated veins. The medication scleroses the vein resulting in the vein shrinking. More then one treatment session is usually needed to eliminate the varicose and spider veins completely.
With the evolution in treatment options for varicose veins, may advantages developed over time. One major advantage with newer treatment options, is the ability to perform procedures without the need for general anesthesia. General anesthesia adds unnecessary cardiovascular and pulmonary complications. Other major advantages include the ability to return back to work the same day or next with no signficant restrictions. Because newer procedures can be performed with minimal to no discomfort, patients are able to return to normal activities immediately in most cases.
Regardless of the procedure you choose to treat your varicose veins, you should go to a reputable center for treatment. If you're from Connecticut, an excellent option is the Center for Varicose Veins, headed by Dr. Vinay Madan. Dr. Madan is a board-certified vascular and interventional radiologist with more than 25 years of experience using minimally invasive procedures for treating varicose veins. Call or message us today to schedule an appointment.