Varicose veins are larger-than-normal veins that sometimes have a twisted, bulging appearance. Although they’re often found on the calves, thighs and insides of the legs, people may also get varicose veins near the vaginal area and buttocks, especially during pregnancy. After discovering varicose vein problems, many people become anxious about treating the issue.
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If you’re dealing with unsightly varicose veins, take comfort in the fact you’re not alone. Statistics say about 50 to 55 percent of females and 40 to 45 percent of males in the United States suffer from vein problems of some sort. Furthermore, half of all people aged 50 or older have varicose veins.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
People often get varicose veins when they have damaged or weak vein valves. Veins have these one-way valves to stop blood from flowing backward as it flows up your legs and against the pull of gravity. If the valves become weak, they may not properly direct the blood flow, which causes blood to back up and pool in the legs, leading to a related problem called venous insufficiency. The backed-up blood causes the veins to get bigger and may make them become varicose veins.
Preventing Varicose Veins
Some varicose veins aren’t preventable. However, there are a number of things you can do to avoid them. Fortunately, those strategies not only stop you from getting new varicose veins, but they ease discomfort from ones you already have.
Begin by eating high-fiber foods. Taking that approach reduces the chances of constipation, which can be a contributing factor to varicose vein development. Also, consider doing away with wearing high-heeled shoes and swapping them for footwear with lower heels.
When you walk in shoes with lower heels, you’ll naturally tone up your calf muscles. When your calf muscles are stronger, it will be easier for blood to move through your veins appropriately. Furthermore, when you take steps, be careful not to walk in ways that cause you to put an extraordinary amount of weight on your legs.
When sitting for long periods of time, don’t cross your legs. Although many people do that for comfort, it’s a habit that can cause injuries in some cases. Even minor injuries can increase your risk of varicose veins, so it’s best to avoid doing things that could make injuries occur.
Also, get up and move frequently, so your long sitting sessions are broken up with periodic bouts of walking. Keeping your legs elevated while resting is a good idea, as well.
If you’re in a situation that requires lots of standing, shift your weight from side to side at least every few minutes. Also, take the time to engage in short strolls so you’re not just idle in one place when prolonged standing is unavoidable.
Regular exercise is another good way to prevent varicose veins. When deciding what kinds of exercises to do, focus on those that give your legs a workout. Walking and running are just two ideas, and you may discover there are some machines at the gym that allow you to participate in strenuous exercise in ways that suit your preferences.
Varicose Vein Complications And Diagnoses
There are some instances that necessitate seeing a doctor about your varicose vein problems. For example, if an affected vein is warm to the touch, that’s potentially problematic. Furthermore, if one of the veins begins to bleed, that’s another sign of trouble.
You should also get medical attention if varicose veins are adversely affecting your daily activities. While making a diagnosis of varicose veins, your doctor will do a visual examination of your legs and ask about the symptoms you’re experiencing. They may also use special equipment to take a look at how your veins are functioning.
Treating Varicose Vein Problems
One of the most common ways to treat varicose veins is to wear compression stockings. By improving circulation in the legs, they can minimize the symptoms experienced by people who suffer from varicose vein problems. Furthermore, they stop new varicose veins from forming and making your overall issues worse. Besides the undesirable appearance of varicose veins, they can cause more serious problems like bleeding and sores.
If you have varicose veins that aren’t causing other problems, your doctor will probably recommend home treatment initially. In many cases, people don’t need more invasive treatment than that.
Home treatment measures involve self-care strategies. Exercise regularly and work hard to maintain a healthy weight. Avoid standing for long periods of time using the tips offered in the previous section. Also, keep your legs elevated as much as you can.
Although there are no medications prescribed to treat varicose veins, your doctor may suggest surgical procedures. Current options have a much higher success rate than conventional treatments of past eras. However, there is no cure for weak leg veins, and you may need to get periodic ultrasounds to check the level of vein leakage and find out if it’s getting worse.
While performing a surgical intervention, your doctor will either tie off or remove large veins in the affected areas. One of the methods used involves taking a special tool and using it to pull out veins while a person is under generalized or local anesthesia.
If you’d prefer to go with a less invasive option first, ask your doctor about possibilities like laser treatments, stab avulsion, which involves removing varicose veins via tiny incisions, or sclerotherapy, where a doctor injects a chemical into the vein and causes it to close.
Sclerotherapy is the most common treatment for varicose veins, and one of the probable reasons why it’s so popular is that people can resume normal activities right after the procedure.
Natural remedies are also sometimes used while treating varicose veins. Reflexology, a treatment where a practitioner applies targeted pressure to specific areas of the body to encourage specific outcomes or types of relief, is sometimes used to combat symptoms related to varicose veins.
Additionally, pine bark and grape seed extracts are antioxidants believed by some to reduce inflammation and strengthen connective tissue. You might also try horse chestnut extract, which has an active ingredient called aescin.
People generally decide to treat varicose vein issues for cosmetic or medical reasons. If you’re interested in treating your varicose veins simply because you don’t like the way they make your body look, be prepared to have to pay for the procedures out of pocket instead of getting them covered by insurance.
Also, be sure to have an in-depth conversation with your doctor to weigh the pros and cons of different procedures, especially if you have a complicated medical history.
Hopefully, you now feel well-informed about how varicose veins are prevented and treated. If you suspect you have varicose veins and want to seek effective ways of managing them, schedule an appointment with your doctor today.