The blood vessels that bring de-oxygenated blood from various parts of the body to the heart and lungs are called veins. Varicose veins is a disorder in which veins become abnormally thick and swollen and they may also be twisted. The condition is more common in women and mainly affects the legs. However, they can appear on the vulva, anus and scrotum, and in some people they may also appear on the hands, feet and chest. A family history of the condition and old age increase one’s chances of developing varicose veins.
- Varicose veins is a disorder of the valves inside veins, which may either be weak or absent from birth. The function of the valves is to stop blood from flowing backwards. When there is a defect in the valves, they cannot stop the backward flow of blood, thus causing varicose veins.
- In case the walls of the vein are weak, there is pooling of blood in the vein, and this can lead to varicose veins.
- The condition may also be a result of inflammation of veins or blood clots in the veins.
- Progesterone hormone that causes veins to dilate is also considered to be responsible for this disorder.
- Varicose veins of the legs are clearly visible to the eye. They appear blue and distorted and as they swell there is a visible bulge beneath the skin. Varicose veins are more prominently seen when the person is standing.
- The affected leg may ache if the person keeps standing for a long time.
- In extreme cases the skin over the varicose veins becomes thin, dry, and itchy. There are chances that there may also be ulcer formation.
Factors that aggravate the condition
- Obesity and tummy fat
- Old age
- Standing for a long time
- Use of stilettos and high heeled footwear can also trigger the condition
- Surgery or trauma
Apart from the regular medications and treatment a little care and self help can reduce the pain and also stop the problem from aggravating.
- Avoid standing for a long period of time
- Keep your legs elevated while sitting or sleeping
- Wear compression stockings if recommended by your doctor
- Take regular walks and remain active to maintain proper blood circulation
- If you are overweight or obese, try to shed the extra kilos
The change in colour and swelling of veins is visible to the eye, and it is more prominent when the person is standing. However, further diagnosis can be done by a Doppler ultrasound scanning. If the scanning reports assert that the blood is flowing in the opposite direction the disorder is diagnosed to be varicose veins.
In most of the cases varicose veins do not require treatment but just care and self help measures to keep it in check. However, if the disorder is painful or unsightly there are several treatments like laser therapy, surgery, or injection therapy which can help to treat the condition.
- Injection therapy
This is generally used to treat small varicose veins, which appear in areas below the knee. A mild irritant is injected into the affected veins. This causes the walls of the veins to stick together, and stop the blood from entering. A compressing bandage is worn a week after the procedure to compress the veins and help then remain stuck together to avoid the entry of blood.
A surgery is generally performed to treat large varicose veins. The faulty perforating veins or the entire varicose vein is surgically removed. They are tied and cut off by a surgical procedure under the influence of general anaesthesia.
In case the varicose veins reoccur the surgery and other treatments may need to be repeated.