Those small bluish veins in your legs begin as a cosmetic concern. If allowed to grow, they can cause painful leg muscles and reduced circulation to your lower legs, feet and ankles. Varicose veins are easier to treat when they are small, so at the first sign, see you doctor about your options. Here is how these veins become such a large health problem and the current trends in varicose vein treatment.
The Mechanics Behind Varicose Veins
Your blood vessels contain tiny valves to let the blood flow one way through them. When these valves become weak, they can fail and let blood move in the opposite direction. This allows the blood to pool in the veins causing them to stretch. This creates the typical bulging veins in your leg. This pooling of the blood also causes the twisting of the blood vessels as they expand.
The Problems Are Not Only Cosmetic
Researchers don't know why varicose veins happen in some people and not others. As the veins get larger, they will produce:
- inflammation in the ankles and feet
- burning sensation over the enlarged vein
- pain and fatigue in the legs
When the veins become large enough to restrict the blood flow to the rest of the leg, you will experience:
- pain and inflammation in your calf
- calf muscles that quickly become tired
- sores and other lower leg injuries that heal slowly
Varicose Vein Treatment Options
The short-term goal of treatment is to improve the circulation in your legs to remove the pain and inflammation. Your doctor will initially recommend a number of non-invasive approaches including:
- compression stockings to improve blood movement through the affected veins
- instructions on keeping your legs elevated when sitting
- exercises to improve muscle strength and circulation in your legs
These treatments won't cure the varicose veins but will slow down the painful side effects. When these approaches fail to get results, a number of surgical techniques can be used.
- Sclerotherapy - A substance is injected directly into the vein which causes it to constrict. The blood stops flowing through the vein and clots. The vein continues to shrink until it can no longer hold blood, and the body then absorbs the tissue, leaving no trace of the vein.
- Laser vein treatment - A catheter is placed in the varicose vein, and a small laser is guided through it. The laser heats up the vein, causing it to shrink. The laser is removed, and the vein continues to shrink until it is absorbed by the body.
- Radiofrequency ablation - This is similar to the laser treatment but uses radio waves to shrink the vein.
- Vein stripping - If the vein is still small, it can be surgically removed from your leg in one piece.
- Phlebectomy - In this procedure, large veins are cut up and removed in pieces.
While not a life or death matter, varicose veins cause pain and reduced circulation. Have your doctor look at your varicose veins when they are just starting and prevent the painful conditions from developing as these veins expand.
For more information, contact Alaska Vein Care or a similar location.