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Varicose Veins…unsightly, sometimes painful, and the reason why some of us don’t wear shorts ?
For the up to 60% of adults that suffer from varicose veins, the annoyance of their appearance and the symptoms that often occur are frustrating to say the least.
But, is there anything that can be done to prevent or treat varicose veins?
In this article, you’ll find out what the dangers of varicose veins are, what to do to prevent them from occurring, and what to do if they have already started showing up.
Let’s jump in!
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What Are Varicose Veins?
Varicose Veins are basically twisted veins (primarily in the legs but may occur in other areas) that have become enlarged.
They appear to be swollen and are raised up under the surface of the skin. Sometime you may even be able to feel them with your fingers if they are large enough.
For the most part, they are harmless (though a nuisance), and are simply a cosmetic concern. However,…if you experience any symptoms that we will cover in a moment, you should consider seeing a doctor.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
The veins in the lower extremities help return the blood to your heart after it has been pumped through the body.
Sometimes, the tiny valves inside the veins that serve as little flaps to prevent the blood from flowing back into the vein as it is traveling back to the heart can become damaged.
The weakened or damaged valves (made of elastic tissue) aren’t able to keep all the blood from flowing backwards, and the excess blood causes the vein to stretch, bulge, and twist, leading to the pronounced appearance of the vein very close to the skin’s surface.
Spider Veins Vs. Varicose Veins
If you have ever looked in the mirror and seen little red lines on your face (usually in the nose, cheek and chin area), you are probably witnessing the formation of spider veins.
Spider veins can be considered varicose veins, but they are much smaller and will occur closer to the skin’s surface.
They may occur in areas other than the legs, and are easier to cover. They also don’t cause the same symptoms that we see with varicose veins.
Both varicose veins and spider veins may appear purple, blue or red, but spider veins do not have the enlarged, visible texture that accompanies varicose veins.
Spider veins are annoying, but normally not a health risk.
Causes of Varicose Veins
While nearly everyone is susceptible to varicose veins, here are a few factors that play a part in determining who is most at risk:
- Being Female. Ugh, sorry ladies. We have a higher chance of developing varicose veins because our hormones have a tendency to cause the valves and walls in our veins to be more relaxed.
- Pregnancy. The volume of blood in the body increases when pregnant, therefore increasing the chance of back flow in the veins when the valves are weakened.
- Heredity. If your mom, dad, grandmother or grandfather had/have varicose veins, you’re probably next in line.
- Standing On Hard Surfaces For Long Periods Of Time. Ladies, if you are working all day in a standing position (banking, hair stylist, cashier, retail), try to take a break whenever possible to sit down and relax your legs.
- Sitting For Long Periods Of Time. Similar to standing for a long time, sitting all day doesn’t allow for optimal blood return. You need to take a quick ten-minute break every once in a while to walk around. This will also keep you from falling asleep 😉
- Medications. Birth Control, Hormone Replacement, etc. Anything that messes with your hormones may cause the valves and walls of the veins to weaken.
- Obesity. An extra bit of weight equals an extra bit of pressure on your legs and feet.
Dangerous Symptoms To Watch For
Guys. This is no joke. If you experience these symptoms it is extremely important to receive medical care. At least get your legs checked out. The cardiovascular system isn’t something you’d benefit from gambling with.
- Feeling Pain Frequently
- Swelling Accompanied By Pain
- Burning Sensation
- A Noticeable Skin Discoloration
- Uncomfortable Cramping In The Legs
- Legs Feel Heavy
Experiencing one or more of these symptoms could be a sign of Thrombophlebitis – an inflammation of the wall of the vein accompanied by a blood clot.
There is also the possibility of developing a venous ulcer in the lower part of the legs/ankles, which will be accompanied by pain and swelling.
See a doctor IMMEDIATELY if you have had any of these symptoms.
While we cannot completely prevent varicose veins, there are a number of steps that can be taken to lessen the chance and intensity of them if/when they develop.
- Don’t Eat Too Much Salt
- Do Not Stand Or Sit For Too Long.
- If You Are Standing For Long Periods Of Time, Avoid Wearing high Heels.
- Don’t Wear Clothes That Are Too Tight On The Lower Part Of Body. It Will Inhibit Proper Blood Flow.
- Wear Support Stockings To Keep Things Moving In The Right Direction And To Prevent Swelling.
- Avoid Excessive Weight Gain.
- When Possible, Elevate Legs.
- Exercise Regularly To Maintain Healthy Blood Flow.
What If I Already Have Varicose Veins?
If you are not having any dangerous symptoms, but hate the sight of your varicose veins, there are a few cosmetic procedures that can be performed:
- Endovenous Laser Treatment – surgery that removes a long segment of the vein or ties off the vein.
- Laser Treatment – uses heat to remove the veins.
- Sclerotherapy – a saline solution is injected into the vein, causing it to disappear withing 3-6 weeks. Click here to learn more about Sclerotherapy.
These are only a few of the options available to treat varicose veins.
Keep in mind that if you intend to have cosmetic procedures done to remove the veins, you’ll need to stay on top of it. The veins have to be removed individually.
To Sum It Up
Varicose veins are a nuisance, and can cause symptoms as minor as a restless feeling, to as major as venous ulcers and blood clots.
Most of the time the veins are harmless, and don’t need to be medically treated.
And, with the high percentage of the adult population that deal with these veins, you can rest assured that you aren’t alone in your struggle with them!
Try to follow the steps for prevention listed above, and, coming from someone who is destined to have them by genetics (yours truly?), I’d say – Don’t worry about them unless you are experiencing the above listed symptoms.
Embrace your body! God chose it just for you ?
I hope this article has been helpful!
Questions or Comments? Leave them in the section below and I’ll definitely get back with you!
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