Don’t let varicose veins keep you from looking and feeling your best!
Have you ever looked at your feet or legs and noticed bulging blue veins? Maybe you’ve wondered why they look like that, or if there’s something you can do about them. These abnormal veins, called varicose veins, are the result of blood gathering in the veins, causing them to expand and twist. While some people wish to get rid of them because they don’t like the way they look, others experience a variety of uncomfortable symptoms they’d like to alleviate. At Polaris Vein Center, we’re here to help! Whether you’re seeking treatment for cosmetic or medical reasons, we have the tools and expertise to help you look and feel your best.
What are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are veins that have become enlarged and twisted. They appear beneath the skin’s surface as blue, rope-like cords, and are caused by a buildup of blood in the vein. They’re one of two types of abnormal veins: spider veins and varicose veins.
Varicose veins are large veins that protrude from the skin. In addition to being visibly noticeable, they can cause discomfort such as heaviness, swelling, and pain.
Spider veins appear as thin blue or red lines just beneath the skin’s surface. They get their name from their spider web-like look. For the most part, they don’t cause symptoms and tend to be more of cosmetic concern than medical.
Symptoms of Varicose Veins
Varicose veins can include a variety of symptoms, including visible symptoms like a twisted, blue appearance, and non-visible symptoms such as pain and discomfort. It’s possible to experience non-visible symptoms even if your varicose veins aren’t visibly noticeable. These symptoms may be signs of an underlying issue, so be sure to consult your doctor for care.
What causes Varicose Veins?
How do varicose veins form? The circulatory system is responsible for the circulation of blood throughout the body. While arteries carry blood away from the heart, veins carry blood to the heart. To help the veins move blood through your body, they use small, one-way valves that open and close to ensure blood continues flowing in the right direction. The valves open to push blood up towards the heart, and close to prevent blood from flowing backward.
Sometimes, these valves become damaged or stop working altogether, making it difficult – or even impossible – for blood to flow properly. This can cause blood to flow backward and start to pool within the vein – a condition called venous reflux, or venous insufficiency. When this happens, the buildup of blood causes the vein to stretch and enlarge, resulting in bulging varicose veins.
Where do Varicose Veins occur?
Varicose veins can occur anywhere in the body, but are most commonly found in the feet,ankles and legs. This is due to veins in these areas being located farther away from the heart than veins in other parts of the body. These veins also have to work against gravity to push blood back to the heart, making it easier for blood to pool in the lower parts of the body.
Who’s at risk of developing varicose veins?
Varicose veins are extremely common, with millions of people in the U.S. alone experiencing them at some point in their lifetime. The likelihood of developing varicose veins depends on a variety of factors, including age, sex, physical activity, weight, and more.
Our bodies – including our veins – experience more wear and tear as we age. As the valves in our veins become older and begin to wear down, they may become weak and stop working properly, causing blood to flow backwards or gather within the vein to form varicose veins.
Your sex can also affect your likelihood of developing varicose veins, with women experiencing them more often than men. Approximately one in three women and one in five men experience problems with varicose veins.
You’re more likely to develop varicose veins if your family has a history of experiencing them as well. Prolonged sitting or standing: Sitting or standing for extended periods of time can make it difficult for blood to flow through the body. You may be at greater risk of developing varicose veins if you have a sedentary lifestyle or if you are required to sit or stand for long periods of time as part of your job.
Weight gain and obesity
Veins already have to work against gravity to push blood up to the heart. Adding a greater body weight to the equation puts veins – especially those in lower areas of the body such as the legs and feet – under more pressure. This can result in weaker valves. Diet plays a role, too: having too much salt in your diet can cause your body to retain water, putting even more pressure on the veins.
The added weight of pregnancy also puts pressure on the veins, especially in the feet and legs. Pregnancy can also cause your body to experience an increase in blood, resulting in enlarged leg veins. Varicose veins can also form due to changes in estrogen and progesterone hormone levels, which can cause the walls of the veins to relax.
While diabetes doesn’t cause varicose veins, it can have a negative impact on the circulatory system, making existing venous insufficiency worse.
Related problems & Health complications
At times, varicose veins are an annoying cosmetic issue. However, if you start to feel pain or discomfort, they can become problematic. If you have underlying venous disease, the backflow and pooling of blood can create a condition that gets worse over time.
Varicose veins, when left untreated, can lead to a variety of complications. Skin discoloration and ulcers can occur in the lower calves and ankles due to the buildup of blood putting pressure on the tissues surrounding the vein. When the blood flow becomes stagnant, thrombophlebitis – also called blood clots – can form. Varicose veins’ thin walls and the way they protrude from the skin’s surface can cause the veins to spontaneously rupture, bleed and bruise. Leaving varicose veins untreated can also cause additional varicose and spider veins to develop. Be sure to consult a doctor if you notice varicose veins.
Prevention and Treatment
Whether you want to reduce the appearance of existing varicose veins or prevent new ones from forming, there are steps you can take to help your legs look and feel their best.
Prevention & Care
While preventative measures for varicose veins are not well defined, there are actions you can take to alleviate symptoms, slow the worsening of the affected veins, and reduce the risk of developing varicose veins or spider veins in the future.
For example, by maintaining a healthy weight, you can avoid putting excess pressure on the vein’s valves. Getting plenty of exercise and eating nutritious meals is a great way to accomplish this. Additionally, a more active lifestyle will help reduce the amount of time you spend sitting or standing. If your job requires sitting or standing for long periods of time, try taking breaks to walk around or switching the positions you’re in. Wearing compression stockings can also help, as these assist your leg muscles in moving blood upwards.
At Polaris Vein Center, we offer a variety of treatment options for varicose veins. These include Venclose, Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT), VenaSeal™ Closure, Ambulatory Phlebectomy, and Sclerotherapy. Each takes a slightly different approach to reducing the appearance of varicose veins and associated symptoms. Our team of professionals will recommend the treatment option that will best help you achieve your desired results. Visit our vein treatment page to learn more.
While vein surgeries in the past were much more invasive, treatments today are less invasive, more effective, and have speedier recovery times. Procedures can also be performed safely and conveniently in an outpatient center rather than a hospital. Medicare and other insurance providers often cover medically necessary procedures, excluding VenaSeal™ Closure.
When to see a doctor
Varicose veins and spider veins can be the result of an underlying condition, so it’s important to consult a vein specialist if you notice any, even if they appear to be a simply cosmetic issue. Be sure to let your specialist know if you are experiencing symptoms of venous insufficiency, such as swelling, pain, or restless legs. It’s easier to treat abnormal veins before they become large and twisted, so seek professional attention in a timely manner.
Are you worried about not having all of your veins intact following treatment? Don’t be! Varicose veins are dysfunctional and leaving them untreated can actually make symptoms worse. After varicose veins are closed off due to treatment, the blood is rerouted to the heart using healthy veins. Your body has enough healthy veins that it won’t miss the closed off ones! Even with fewer veins, your blood flow can improve with the help of varicose vein treatment.
Whether you’re uncomfortable with the appearance of your varicose veins or are dealing with painful symptoms of venous insufficiency, the vein specialists at Polaris Vein Center are here to help. Our experts have years of experience treating vein problems and use the latest technology and procedures to help you look and feel your best. Schedule your free consultation today!