Your legs have faithfully carried you far and wide, but sometimes your journeys show up as road maps across the surface of your legs. Called varicose veins, these gnarled and bulging veins affect over 30 million people in the United States. They are unsightly, but they can also cause considerable pain and pose health risks.
While varicose veins are very common, there's a surprising amount of misinformation swirling around about the causes and treatments. Here are seven facts to help you better understand varicose veins and, more important, what you can do about it.
What comes down, must go up
Your blood is in constant motion, busily delivering oxygen and nutrients back and forth to every nook and cranny to your body. While the initial thrust is delivered by your heart, your blood's movement is helped along by muscles and valves in and around your veins that control the upward and downward flow. The farther blood is from your heart, the more these valves and muscles must work, fighting not just distance, but gravity.
Varicose veins develop when the vessels in your legs aren't shutting properly, allowing your blood to fall backward and pool, a condition called venous insufficiency. As a result, your veins become enlarged and start to collapse downward, like sagging socks.
More than skin deep
While varicose veins present only a cosmetic concern for some people, for others they are far more than just an eyesore. Varicose veins can cause mild discomfort and itching to moderate pain and swelling, even leading to more painful sores and ulcers that don't heal.
A woman’s world
While both men and women can get varicose veins, the condition favors the fairer sex — by a lot. Women are twice as likely to develop varicose veins than men.
Many people believe varicose veins occur only in people who are overweight, which isn't true. Varicose veins develop in men and women of all shapes and sizes. That said, weight issues do play a role in making you more prone to varicose veins, and obesity can significantly exacerbate the condition.
As with weight, age doesn’t determine whether you develop varicose veins, but it can play a role. Just as every other system in your body wears down over time, so, too, does your circulatory system. While teenagers can, and do, develop varicose veins, the older you get, the more susceptible you are to the condition.
In the genes
We've discussed factors that help play a role in the extent of your varicose veins, like weight, age, or gender, but the bottom line is that varicose veins are largely linked to genetics and heredity. If varicose veins run in your family, your odds are substantially increased for developing venous insufficiency.
In the know
Less than 8% of the 30 million people with varicose veins seek medical care, which speaks to a lack of information about effective treatments. At Advanced Cardiovascular Care, Dr. Syed Bokhari has been successfully treating varicose veins in patients for years with several minimally invasive and nonsurgical techniques, including:
- Sclerotherapy injections: An FDA approved medication injection that destroys smaller varicose veins
- Laser and light therapies: A noninvasive technique that uses heat energy to destroy the veins without harming the surface of your skin
- Endovenous ablation: A 45-minute, in-office procedure using radiofrequency technology to cauterize varicose veins
- Venaseal procedure: An office based procedure to inject glue via a catheter to close down the culprit veins causing problems
In addition to these treatments, you can do a number of things on your own to minimize the impact and development of varicose veins, and we’re happy to discuss them with you. To learn more about how to successfully combat varicose veins, call Advanced Cardiovascular Care or schedule an appointment using the convenient online booking tool.