What are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins look like blue gnarled ropes on the surface of your legs and feet, and it can be an embarrassing condition for many older people. Here’s what you need to know about this condition, what you can do about it, and when it may be a sign of something serious.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
Your veins have a system of one-way valves that keep blood from flowing back to your feet as your heart pumps. When these valves start to wear out, the blood flows backward and pools in the veins. This causes the vein to bloat and twist, until it’s visible through the skin.
While any vein in the body could develop this condition, the legs are the most common given that naturally through activity, those valves work the hardest over time.
There are many risk factors for developing varicose veins. Age, diet, exercise levels, and heredity all increase the risk of vein disease. If you smoke, have an unhealthy diet, or lack exercise, reversing these habits will reduce your risk of vascular disease.
Normally, this is purely a cosmetic concern, but varicose veins can lead to other problems. In their most mild form, they can make your legs look bumpy and gnarled. However, sensations of pain and heaviness can occur if proper treatment isn’t sought out.
Varicose Vein Symptoms
Aside from the obvious cosmetic issues, people with varicose veins can experience fatigue in their legs. Typically, patients describe feeling more heaviness in the evenings, especially after standing or sitting for a long time.
In this situation, what’s happening is the blood isn’t moving fast enough out of the leg veins and it causes the blood vessels to swell. Ultimately, the swollen veins end up putting pressure on the nerves and make the legs feel heavy.
This is a danger sign, especially if there doesn’t seem to be a visible cause. As the condition gets worse, you may notice redness, swelling, and inflammation around the vein. Should you notice any of these signs, visit your doctor and ask them to check for a blood clot.
For instance, blood clots in deep veins lead to a condition known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DVT not only causes more cosmetic problems but can also be life-threatening. Blood clots may also travel towards the lungs and cause another serious condition called pulmonary embolism.
Additionally, varicose veins can cause a form of dermatitis called stasis dermatitis or varicose eczema. If your skin gets itchy, flaky, or starts bleeding near the vein, that’s another sign that it’s time to see a doctor.
Varicose Vein Treatment
Fortunately, there are treatments. If the pain is mild, your doctor can teach you self-care routines that will help you manage your symptoms. These at home treatments may include wearing compression stockings, elevating your feet, exercising, and anti-inflammatory medications. However, if these do not relieve your symptoms, your veins will need more advnaced treatment.
In rare cases, varicose veins can cause skin ulcers and other serious complications. If you have varicose veins, see a doctor or vein surgeon right away for treatment options.
Minimally Invasive Vein Treatments
This vein treatment involves using a fine needle to inject a saline solution into the diseased vein. The sclerosant damages and irritates the walls of the injected vein. The medicine eventually causes the vein to break down, dissolve, and disappear.
Treatments are minimally invasive, and can be done in less than an hour. Sclerotherapy usually requires multiple treatments to see complete results.
Some patients may experience an allergic reaction around the injection site. Always discuss your medical history with your doctor before recieving treatment or any type of surgery.
If your vein disease goes deeper, you may require a more intensive treatment such as laser surgery. One of our go-to treatments for larger varicose veins is laser or radiofrequency ablation.
This involves guiding a laser through the vein, and using laser light beams to break down the vein at a specific point. You can learn more about this minimally invasive surgery on our treatments page.
Another innovative treatment we offer is with the VenaSeal™ closure system. During an in-office appointment, the closure system delivers a sealant into your vein, pressure is applied, and then the vein is closed.
Other Treatments for Varicose Veins
The real key to treating vein disease is finding the root of the problem. We’ve talked about blood clots and deep vein thrombosis, which can cause symptoms like varicose veins. At the Vein Centre, we look for the main cause so we can improve all of your symptoms.
Will my insurance cover the cost of vein surgery?
Many varicose vein treatment options are covered by insurance. If you need help with your coverage, contact one of our insurance specialists, and they will help you sort through all the details.
Can I stop myself from getting more varicose veins?
Once your veins start to become varicose, there’s often little that can be done to prevent new varicose veins from developing in the future. However, adjusting your lifestyle will reduce the risk that your veins will swell again.
Visit the Vein Centre
If you have questions about your vein symptoms or vascular surgery, come visit us at a Vein Centre near you. We would be happy to answer any questions you have about varicose or spider veins. We have three convienient locations around the Greater Nashville Area, one in Franklin, one in Mt Juliet, and one in Belle Meade. Your healthy veins are waiting for you.
125 Cool Springs Blvd, Suite 250
Franklin, TN 37067
4535 Harding Pike, Suite 304
Nashville, TN 37205
660 South Mount Juliet Rd, Suite 211
Mount Juliet, TN 37122