What Causes Varicose Veins?

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Varicose veins, also known as varicosities, are enlarged and twisted veins that are visible beneath the surface of the skin. They are often confused with spider veins, which are smaller, web-like veins that are closer to the skin’s surface. Varicose veins are primarily caused by weakened or damaged valves in the veins that prevent blood from flowing efficiently. These valves can become weakened due to genetic factors, age, obesity, pregnancy, and prolonged periods of sitting or standing. Other factors that contribute to varicose veins include blood clots and inflammation of the veins. While varicose veins are usually harmless, they can cause discomfort, pain, and other complications in some individuals. Treatments include lifestyle changes, compression stockings, and medical procedures performed by vein specialists. 

Symptoms of Varicose Veins

Varicose veins can cause a range of symptoms, although some people with this condition may not experience any noticeable symptoms. Common symptoms include swollen or bulging veins, twisted or knotted veins, aching or throbbing pain in the legs, a feeling of heaviness or fatigue in the legs, itching or burning sensations in the affected area, and muscle cramps or spasms. Some individuals with varicose veins may also experience skin discoloration or ulcers in the lower leg. . In severe cases, varicose veins can lead to more serious complications such as blood clots or bleeding. If you experience any of these symptoms or have concerns about varicose veins, it is important to consult with a vein specialist  for diagnosis and treatment options.

What Is the Cause of Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins are caused by weakened or damaged valves in the veins, which prevent blood from flowing efficiently. The veins in our legs have one-way valves that keep blood flowing upward towards the heart. When these valves weaken or become damaged, blood can flow backward and pool in the veins, causing them to become enlarged and twisted. This can happen due to genetic factors, age, obesity, pregnancy, or prolonged periods of sitting or standing. Other factors that can contribute to the development of varicose veins include blood clots and inflammation of the veins. 

How Are Varicose Veins Diagnosed?

Varicose veins can be diagnosed through a physical examination and medical history review. Your vein specialist will perform  an ultrasound to visualize the veins and determine the extent of the condition. During the physical exam, your healthcare provider will check for swollen or twisted veins in the affected area and ask about any symptoms you may be experiencing. The ultrasound is a non-invasive test that uses sound waves to create images of the veins and evaluate blood flow. This test can help your vein specialist  determine the severity of your varicose veins and develop an appropriate treatment plan. Lifestyle changes or conservative therapy is often required by insurance before they will cover any procedures. 

How Are Varicose Veins Treated?

There are several treatment options available for varicose veins, depending on the severity of the condition. Lifestyle changes are often the first line of defense and can include regular exercise, weight management, and avoiding prolonged periods of sitting or standing. Procedures such as sclerotherapy, endovenous Thermal treatment, and vein removal can be used to treat more severe cases of varicose veins. Compression therapy, which involves wearing specialized stockings or wraps to improve blood flow, is also a common treatment option. In some cases, medication such as anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed to help alleviate symptoms. Your healthcare provider can help determine which treatment options are best suited for your individual needs and recommend a course of action that is right for you.

Can You Prevent Varicose Veins?

While there is no guaranteed way to prevent varicose veins, there are several steps you can take to lower your risk and slow the progression of the condition. Regular exercise can help improve circulation and strengthen the muscles in your legs, reducing your risk of developing varicose veins. Maintaining a healthy weight can also reduce pressure on the veins in your legs. Avoiding prolonged periods of sitting or standing can also help improve blood flow and reduce your risk of developing varicose veins. Elevating your legs and wearing compression stockings can help improve circulation and alleviate symptoms associated with varicose veins. If you are at a higher risk for developing varicose veins due to family history or other factors, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider about appropriate prevention strategies.

Varicose veins are a common condition that affects many people in the Michiana area. . While they may not always cause noticeable symptoms, they can be a source of discomfort and even lead to more serious complications in some cases. If you are experiencing symptoms such as swelling, pain, or skin discoloration, or if you have concerns about varicose veins, it is important to consult with a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment options. At Legacy Vein Clinic, we offer free screenings to help evaluate your risk of varicose veins and develop a personalized treatment plan. 
Request a Free Screening today and take the first step towards healthier, happier legs.

About the author
Certified by the American Board of Venous & Lymphatic Medicine Specializing in the Minimally Invasive Treatment of Varicose Veins and Venous Insufficiency
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