What Causes Varicose Veins and How Can I Get Rid of Them?

What Causes Varicose Veins and How Can I Get Rid of Them?

Dark blue, red, or purple, gnarled and angry looking, varicose veins are at best unsightly and at worst a serious health issue that can point to circulatory problems. These veins, which have the potential to make your legs appear years older, develop due to the pressure that standing and walking puts on your veins’ walls.   

But why do some people get varicose veins, while others aren’t affected? Perhaps more importantly, what can be done about them? Today, I’ll examine both issues, so you can better understand both the problem and the solution.

The source of varicose veins

While the heart is an amazing and powerful muscle, it needs help with its job of circulating blood around your body. Veins are the blood vessels that return blood toward your heart and lungs for reoxygenating, and to get blood from your lower body back to your chest. Veins have a series of valves that keep blood moving upward, preventing backward flow.

As you get older, or during pregnancy, changes affect the way your circulatory system works. Veins can lose elasticity, or the volume and pressure of your blood may change. Each of these issues could cause veins to expand to the point where the valves no longer close fully against the backward flow of blood. Pools of blood begin to form and further swell the veins, causing the typical gnarled, dark appearance.

Varicose veins that develop during pregnancy may spontaneously improve after delivery, but age-related varicose veins typically don’t improve without treatment. You’re more at risk of developing varicose veins if you’re female, since some hormonal factors may contribute. If you have a family history of varicose veins, you’re more likely to develop them yourself. Being overweight or working a job where you stand or sit for long periods of time may also increase your risk.

Treating varicose veins

For most people with varicose veins, it’s largely a cosmetic issue and one that has several alternatives for treatment. Conservative treatments include compression stockings to assist veins with the upward pumping. While this helps keep varicose veins from getting worse, it won’t improve the appearance of already visible veins.

Vein stripping, also called ligation, is a traditional treatment that surgically removes the offending vein. Deeper veins nearby increase the blood flow to deprived areas of your body tissue, so the varicose vein, close to the skin’s surface, can be removed without ill effect.

Sclerotherapy causes the body to reabsorb the varicose vein by injecting a solution or foam into the vein that blocks it, triggering the body’s healing systems to remove the vein tissue over a matter of weeks.

Laser energy treats varicose veins either in a catheter-assisted procedure or noninvasively, through the skin. Radiofrequency energy delivered through a catheter may also be an alternative. Each of these methods causes the vein to collapse, after which your body removes the tissue.

Ambulatory phlebectomy and endoscopic vein surgery are other specialized minimally invasive techniques that may be used in certain circumstances.

You can get a youthful appearance back in your legs in most cases, even if you have heavy varicose veins. Contact my office to request an appointment, either online or by phone, to get the process started.

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