Varicose veins are a concern that can develop into a medical issue. The unsightly, large, bulging veins used to be treated utilizing surgical methods, typically vein stripping. Still, technology has come far, allowing varicose veins to be removed via methods that require no downtime and have a significantly reduced risk for complications. Learn more about varicose veins and the treatments available for them by contacting Tennessee Vein Center via our contact page.
What Are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are large, rope-like veins that protrude from the skin’s surface. The unsightly veins come in a variety of colors, including red, blue, purple and flesh-colored. Varicose veins can form anywhere on the body but commonly form in the lower extremities.
Varicose veins are commonly caused by increased blood pressure in the veins. Throughout the human body, veins are at work transporting blood and oxygen. The transportation of blood requires a lot of energy, particularly for the lower extremities, as the veins work against the natural forces of gravity to transport blood back to the heart. Leg muscles compensate for this necessary energy, but, in many cases, the required output of energy is not attained. The vein valves and walls can potentially become weakened or damaged causing the blood to pool. Gradually, as blood pools more and more within the vein, varicose veins will form and start to bulge from the skin.
Who Is At Risk for Varicose Veins?
Numerous factors can put someone at risk for developing varicose veins. While a sedentary lifestyle can particularly put you at risk because your calf muscles aren’t exerting the right amount of energy for the transportation of blood, there are other factors as well. These factors include:
Age The natural aging process can affect blood circulation. Blood can start to flow backward and pool within the veins instead of traveling back to the heart. Gradually, the vein valves that regulate blood flow can become damaged or weaken, making varicose vein development probable.
Genetics Family history of varicose veins can put someone at a greater risk for developing them. Genetics is thought to be the most significant risk factor for venous issues. If varicose veins are common in your family, you are predisposed to vein valves failing.
Gender Women are at a greater risk for varicose vein development than men because of hormonal changes throughout their lifetime. Pregnancy and menopause cause certain female hormones to release that relax the veins, which can put them at risk for weakening and affect blood circulation.
Obesity Being overweight can put you at greater risk for varicose vein formation. A significant amount of weight in the abdomen can negatively affect blood circulation from the legs to the heart. Additionally, too much weight can put pressure on the vein walls, potentially damaging them.
Occupation Certain occupations require long hours of standing or sitting. If the legs are frequently in one position, pressure can be put on the veins. Teachers, restaurant workers, bank tellers, among others, are at risk for varicose veins.
Lifestyle Certain lifestyle habits can put one at risk for varicose veins. Particularly, smoking and excessive alcohol use can make varicose vein development a possibility. Nicotine from smoking weakens vein valves, which will decrease blood circulation.
Will Varicose Veins Go Away Naturally?
Varicose veins will not go away on their own. Symptoms associated with the unsightly veins can also go away temporarily, but they will return, making it ideal to have them treated. It’s commonly believed that compression stockings can treat the condition, but this is not the case. Compression stockings can help improve circulation and lessen the appearance of varicose veins, but they will not remove them.
What Can Be Done to Prevent Varicose Veins From Forming?
If you believe you are predisposed to the development of varicose veins, there are steps and lifestyle changes you can take to help mitigate their formation. These include:
Exercising regularly Low-impact exercises, such as walking, cycling, and swimming, can improve blood flow and circulation. Exercising will also reduce high blood pressure and improve the circulatory system.
Avoiding standing for long periods Being in one position for an extended period of time can put pressure on the vein valves. It is best to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day.
Maintaining a healthy weight Developing healthy eating habits and exercising can significantly reduce your risk for developing varicose veins.
Quitting smoking Smoking is associated with high blood pressure. Quitting smoking will not only reduce your risk of developing varicose veins but will help improve your overall health.
Elevating your legs It is recommended to elevate your legs at least six to 12 inches above your chest when lying down to help improve circulation. Doing so will allow blood in your lower extremities to flow more easily to your heart.
Adjusting your wardrobe Certain clothing can affect your circulation. It’s recommended not to wear clothing that is constricting to the waist, groin and legs. Wearing comfortable shoes is also recommended. High heels, for example, can put stress on your lower legs and constrict blood flow.
What Happens If Varicose Veins Are Left Untreated?
Varicose veins can develop into a serious medical issue. If left untreated, varicose veins can potentially continue to expand and settle, which will start to cause swelling. The swelling is due in part to a lack of blood circulation. If swelling becomes present, pain can be felt when walking, muscle spasms can occur and restless leg syndrome can develop.
If swelling isn’t concerning enough, untreated varicose veins can eventually cause skin discoloration, a condition called lipodermatosclerosis. This condition occurs because the fatty tissues beneath the skin become inflamed. Lipodermatosclerosis is an unsightly condition that can be itchy and generally irritating. If swelling and skin discoloration related to varicose veins, they can eventually develop venous stasis ulcers. An excessive amount of pressure on the vein walls will cause ulcers to develop.
Is Surgery Necessary for Varicose Veins?
Surgery used to be the most viable route for varicose veins, but that is no longer the case. There are numerous treatment options available for patients designed to treat varying conditions of varicose veins. Vein stripping surgery used to be the standard, but in 2007 endovenous ablation became the standard treatment for varicose veins. A varicose vein treatment can be performed in a doctor’s office and without the need for general anesthesia. The risk for complications is reduced significantly when varicose veins are not treated via surgical means.
What Treatment Options Are Available for Varicose Veins
Thanks to advancements in medical technologies, treatments for varicose veins are minimally invasive, utilize local anesthesia and are performed on an outpatient basis. These treatments have high success rates and produce longer-lasting results than surgical methods.
Treatment options available for varicose veins include:
Endovenous Ablation is a non-surgical treatment that eliminates varicose veins utilizing laser thermal energy. Local anesthesia is administered around the vein during this treatment to help mitigate any discomfort. During the treatment, a small catheter is inserted into the varicose vein through a tiny needle. A laser fiber is then inserted into the catheter, which emits thermal energy to the vein walls. The inner lining of the vein wall that’s exposed to the thermal energy gradually collapses and seals off. After the vein dissolves, the body will naturally reroute the blood that was formally pooling in the unwanted varicose vein to healthier veins. After an endovenous ablation treatment, the varicose vein will gradually shrink and fade in days or weeks. Endovenous ablation treatment lasts for approximately 60 minutes. This is performed in the office and requires no downtime.
Sclerotherapy is a treatment commonly used for treating spider veins but, depending on the severity of a patient’s case, can be utilized to treat varicose veins. The injectable vein treatment involves injecting a chemical agent, sclerosant, into the varicose vein. The chemical agent will irritate and inflame the varicose vein, causing it to close off and no longer circulate blood. The body will naturally absorb the destroyed varicose vein, and the displaced blood will reroute to healthier veins. Sclerotherapy is performed in-office and requires no downtime.
Have Your Varicose Veins Treated at Tennessee Vein Center
Treatment options for varicose veins have come a long way. Previously, vein stripping, a surgical procedure that involves making an incision near the affected vein for removal, was often used to rid the body of varicose veins. However, more viable options exist now that are performed quicker, require no downtime and are performed utilizing local anesthesia. Among these treatment options are thermal ablation and sclerotherapy. These two varicose vein treatment options are proven methods that help rid the body of varicose veins.
If you are a resident of Loudon or Alcoa, TN, or surrounding communities and are struggling with varicose veins, please contact Tennessee Vein Center to schedule a consultation. Our Alcoa location can be reached at 865-233-5858 and our Loudon location at 865-240-0444. Or you can visit our contact page to schedule a consultation.