What is Varicose Veins?
The term varicose means, “Abnormally swollen”. It’s an adjective commonly used for those veins which are knotted or twisted to an extent that these seem like sitting on the surface of skin.
So, we can say that these are swollen; twisted veins that are visible just below the skin. The varicose veins usually occur in the legs. Other parts of the body where varicose veins can be demonstrated include, anal region where hemorrhoids are seen. Hemorrhoids are a type of such types of veins. The diagram below illustrates the symptom.
Illustration source: Deposit Photos
Our veins are naturally operated with one-way valves that are meant to keep the blood flow towards our heart. This means that, in veins, all the blood is pushed from legs back to the heart. The purpose is carried out with the help of small door like valves which allow one-way flow only. These prohibit the backward flow of blood towards the feet.
If, in any case, these little doors like valves become weak or damaged, the functions of veins are lost. Now, stagnant blood, which was on the way towards heart for its purification, starts pooling in vessels. This causes swelling and dilatation of our veins. If it persists longer, results in varicosity of veins.
Varicose veins usually run in families and aging increases its risk. Also, if you are overweight or belong to an occupation that requires standing for long periods of time the risk of this disease increases. Pregnancy can sometimes also lead to such veins.
Symptoms for these are:
- Veins become Darker in color.
- Appear extremely swollen, stretched and twisted on the surface of the skin.
- Mild pain can sometimes occur especially, when standing for long periods of time.
- You can appreciate swelling in your feet and ankles.
- Legs remain swollen all the time.
- Skin changes in the areas of such veins are commonly observed.
To elaborate the causes, I must tell you that there are some particular factors that increase the risk. For example, if you are getting aged, there is increased potential because your veins are losing elasticity with advancement of age.
Similarly, females get this disorder as compared to males. The reason is their frequent hormonal changes which occur at puberty or after menopause (stoppage of menstruation).
Occupation may also be the cause as well. If it consists of long periods of standing continuously you may get your veins distorted and weakened.
Pregnancy, on the other hand, also causes this disorder. Lack of movement and sedentary lifestyles, add to your weight and hence, now-a-days are common reasons for these ailments of veins. Doctors recommend proper exercise for prevention and as a part of its treatment.
You might be wondering on the fact that valves are weakened throughout the body then why only and only legs veins become varicose?
Friends, it is worth explaining that our veins are meant to return blood back to the heart which is used by our tissues and is stagnant. The veins of all the parts of body return the blood back easily. But, unfortunately, due to the effect of gravity leg veins have to exert more pressure than normal.
As, much pressure is required by leg veins so, they become tortuous easily when their valves are damaged. Therefore, it is the key reason that legs are more vulnerable to this disease.
How does it impact your health?
Your health can be affected in a number of ways because varicose veins lead to serious complications. Some of them are mentioned:
- Sores or ulcers:
If your blood gets collected in these veins, then its fluid (liquid portion of blood) seeps into the surrounding tissue from these vessels. This collection of fluid damages the cells hence leading to sores in the particular area.
Such veins when cut, have an extra tendency to bleed. When you bump your leg this may also bleed.
- Inflammation of veins:
The walls of vessels become inflamed easily which appear as reddened and painful area on the skin.
- Blood clots in veins:
A blood clot of any type can appear in your veins. This can either cause pain or as, in most of cases remains silent. But when it travels up to the veins of lungs it can be fatal as well.
So, keeping in view these dreaded consequences, always look for a doctor or proper medical treatment when any of above mentioned sign appears on your legs or any part of body.
The treatment plan of varicose veins includes three main strategies:
- Relieving symptoms
- Improvement of appearance
Always keep on exercising regularly if it is in your family. A habit of 30 minutes of walk daily, five days a week can serve the purpose. Losing weight is also necessary to help prevention.
2) Relieving symptoms:
By proper medical treatment serious symptoms like pain and warmth of that area can be ameliorated.
3) Improvement of appearance:
This is most important part of treatment as the patient is especially concerned with the appearance of these veins. The twisting veins give an extremely scary look that is highly troublesome for a patient.
Both medical and surgical treatments are included in this regard.
The good part of this is that you don’t have to stay at hospital or so. In fact, we need to thank less invasive techniques that have been developed to save us from the hazards of a disease.
One of the most common less invasive procedures to proceed for treatment is Compression stockings. Laser surgeries are also performed in case the compression technique fails to serve the purpose.
Less common medical treatment is sclerotherapy. In this procedure, doctor injects a small amount of drug in your vein to close it. With the passage of time the veins appearing on surface of skin, disappear. This is performed in clinic and does not require surgical operation.
These procedures require anesthesia for their performance. Following procedures are included:
- Catheter assisted surgery.
- Vein stripping.
- Removal of the parts of veins. (Phlebotomy)
- Endoscope assisted surgery.
In only advanced cases, when the case is having leg ulcers, this type of surgery is performed.
Going into the details of these techniques is beyond the scope of this article. But one thing I feel worth explaining here is compression stockings. These have a great significance in the treatment of this disorder. Like, if you are able to use these properly you can end up with this disease only by wearing these stockings. This adds to the importance of this procedure and I feel if any one of you out there is suffering from such an ailment, he should go for this easy and comfortable process. This might even help varicose veins to disappear.
How compression stockings can help as part of treatment?
These come in the market very easily and don’t need any prescription. These are worn to improve symptoms like discomfort, swelling, and pain.
Here I am going to explain the purpose of how these act as part of treatment. First of all it’s worth illuminating the normal function of veins.
The main function of veins is to pull the blood towards the heart from different parts of the body. Force of gravity acts on the blood and hence has to be pumped with pressure towards heart. Some abnormal alterations occur in the walls of blood vessels and hence cause extraordinary expansion of the vessels and valves of the veins to become weakened. This disrupts the normal flow of blood hence blood collects in the legs of the person.
Now, as the valves cannot be closed any longer the blood starts pooling in the legs of the person. Such problems can be counter-acted by exerting pressure from outside. The external pressure can give a proper shape to the vessels and hence, the valves of blood vessels can shut properly. This results in normal flow of blood towards heart.
There are different levels of compressions and can generally be divided into three main classes:
- Class 1: 8-20mmHg
- Class 2: 21-30mmHg
- Class 3: 30-40mmHg
Class 1 (8-20mmHg) are usually safe to wear by anyone and can be bought over the counter without prescription. The compression levels of 20mmHg or higher act effectively to relieve symptoms of venous insufficiency. Class 2 or higher compression level socks should only be used under the advice of qualified medical personnel.
Compression stockings put pressure on veins from outside. These pull the blood back towards heart by a specific procedure. These, when worn correctly build most pressure at ankles which gets relieved upwards when these stockings stretch towards knees. This process redirects blood flow back towards heart and normal function of veins is restored.
The one thing while using these is to wear them properly which otherwise, can lead to new problems. You may buy these easily but on the proper advice of doctor.Before using them, see a doctor if you have arterial disease. If so, there must be any other option for you because, compression treatment can worsen the disease. On prescription of a physician you can use them fearlessly and thereby any deteriorating case can be prevented. Learn more about benefits of compression stockings.
As an end note, when it comes to treat varicose veins, you need to be a careful consumer. Some clinicians appeal you by putting banners saying actually claiming, “unique”, “painless” surgical methods to remove the varicose veins. But trust me people, there is no painless surgery. Before having any technique done, ask the doctor about any risk. On the other hand, if you use compression stockings, it is visibly painless and more economic procedure to treat your disease easily.
Find out more about +MD Class 1 compression stockings series