Varicose veins are enlarged, twisted and can appear ropey. They are swollen, dark blue or purple blood vessels that you can see and feel beneath the skin. The term commonly refers to the veins on the leg, although they can occur elsewhere too. They form when the valves within a vein weaken and allow some blood to flow backward. The vein can weaken under the strain and balloons outward, which causes the skin to raise. This can cause aching, heaviness, swelling, itching, cramping, restless legs, and discomfort.
Understanding Varicose Veins
A varicose vein is a condition that affects 3 in 10 adults. Men are less likely to develop varicose veins than women are. Varicose veins can affect any part of the body, but they commonly occur in the feet and legs, particularly the calves. This is because walking and standing exerts a lot of pressure on the veins in your lower body. This web page seeks to discuss what varicose veins are, types of varicose veins, and how they are diagnosed and treated.
What are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are the veins under the skin of your legs, which are twisted or widened. The leg consists of two main veins: the deep veins and the superficial veins. Your leg muscles exert pressure on the deep veins when walking and this carries blood back from the legs to the heart. The superficial veins are under the skin and play a less significant role.
Both the deep veins and superficial veins have valves that prevent blood from flowing down to the legs and instead push it towards the heart. When these one-way valves are damaged, you experience varicose veins. As a result, blood flows down to your legs and causes excessive pressure when standing. The excess pressure causes the veins to expand or widen.
Types of Varicose Veins
- Trunk varicose veins: In this condition, the veins around the surface of your skin are affected. These veins appear knobbly and thick. They are visible, long, and unpleasant.
- Reticular varicose veins: Red veins that form a network like pattern.
- Telangiectasia varicose veins: These are also called spider or thread veins. They are small clusters of red or blue veins that appear on your legs or face. Spider veins are harmless and do not bulge beneath the skin’s surface like trunk varicose veins.
The right treatment can take care of the discomfort associated with the condition and improve the appearance. If left untreated it can lead to serious circulatory problems and worsen over time.
To check for varicose veins, your physician will perform a physical exam that includes observing your legs to check whether there is any swelling. Your doctor could also ask you to describe any aching and pain in your legs.
Your physician may also perform an ultrasound test to check whether the valves in your veins are operating normally or whether you have a blood clot. During this exam, a technician passes a handheld device/ transducer over your skin. The transducer projects images of the veins in your legs to a screen. This way, your physician is able to determine whether you have expanded veins or any kind of swelling.
Our vein doctors at Virginia Heart & Vascular Institute can determine the cause of varicose veins and provide cosmetic and medical treatment via a customized service plan and prevention plan. For vein treatment in Fairfax, Virginia, call 703-560-1075 to contact Virginia Heart & Vascular Institute.
Fortunately with today’s technology, treatment is non-invasive and doesn’t require an uncomfortable recovery. There are many different approaches for the treatment and improvement of varicose veins:
Self care – exercising, losing weight, not wearing tight clothes, keeping your legs elevated, and avoiding long periods standing on the legs and sitting.
Compression stockings – wearing compression stockings throughout the day is usually the first approach before moving on to other treatments. This method helps move blood more efficiency.
- Sclerotherapy. In this procedure, your doctor injects small- and medium-sized varicose veins with a solution that scars and closes those veins. In a few weeks, treated varicose veins should fade.
- Although the same vein may need to be injected more than once, sclerotherapy is effective if done correctly. Sclerotherapy doesn’t require anesthesia and can be done in your doctor’s office.
- Foam sclerotherapy of large veins. Injection of a large vein with a foam solution is also a possible treatment to close a vein and seal it. This is a newer technique.
- Laser surgeries. Doctors are using new technology in laser treatments to close off smaller varicose veins and spider veins. Laser surgery works by sending strong bursts of light onto the vein, which makes the vein slowly fade and disappear. No incisions or needles are used.
- Clarivein a rotating tip is used to make a pin sized entry into the peripheral vasculature, the rotating tip of the ClariVein®OC is set in motion to treat the inside of the vessel delivering medicine specified by your doctor. The medicine is delivered through the unique rotating tip of the catheter allowing for 360-degree coverage of the vessel.
- Varithena The doctor administers a small amount of Varithena® through a catheter or by direct injection into the malfunctioning vein. The diseased vein collapses and the microfoam is deactivated. When the malfunctioning vein collapses, blood flow shifts to healthier veins nearby.
- Phlebectomy a minimally invasive procedure that uses a small scalpel or needle to remove the varicose veins on the surface of the leg. When the procedure is complete, your leg will be wrapped in a comfortable but snug compression wrap. This treatment is highly successful on selected patients.