Varicose veins are abnormally thick blood vessels that return the impure blood from different parts of the body to the heart. These veins appear as dark blue swollen and twisted veins that are raised over the skin surface and give an ugly look.
Varicose veins usually appear on the legs and foot and mostly on the back of the shank or on the inner part of the legs. The twisted, dilated and thickened parts of the veins are called varicosities. The veins are enclosed with connective tissues and muscles which play a major role in pumping the blood that gets collected in the vein back to the heart and the valves in the vein prevent the back flow of the blood.
The superficial veins have less muscular support and hence they are more prone to become varicose veins. The increased pressure in the veins makes the vein dilate and restrict the valves in the veins to close properly and there by allow the back flow of blood. This congested blood causes the vein to bulge out and make varicose veins.
Varicose veins usually do not cause any life threatening problems but it creates more cosmetic problems. Varicose veins are common in women and elderly people. Certain conditions such as pregnancy, prolonged standing, obesity, constipation, lifting weights etc aggravate the varicose veins. The symptoms experienced by each person varies from the other and most of them have burning sensation, pain, leg cramps, swelling etc.
People having varicose veins are more prone to develop deep vein thrombosis which is a clot formed deep in the vein which may travel up with the blood stream and block the lungs or heart. If the patient experience any breathing trouble or chest pain the role of this clot should be ruled out and hence should be rushed to the hospital.
If there is any inflammation, ulceration, discoloration of the varicose vein or having unbearable pain that increase with time, then the patient should consult a doctor immediately. If the conditions are normal then varicose vein can be treated easily with simple lifestyle changes, self-care or go for medical treatments.
Permanent curing for varicose vein is not possible but with proper care and treatment it can be regulated. The discomforts caused by varicose veins can also be reduced through proper treatment.
- Sclerotherapy treatments: This is a process of injecting a chemical substance in to the vein which then obliterates the veins but it requires multiple treatments for success. This treatment is valid only for small veins and the patients may develop allergies to chemical, skin ulceration, inflammation, permanent skin discoloration etc. The treated areas should be bandaged for at least 3 weeks.
- Laser Treatment: Laser lights are applied on the small varicose veins and it makes the veins to fade but it requires multiple treatments to get the veins faded completely. Laser treatment is applicable only to veins measuring 1 millimeter in diameter or smaller. It does not require injection or chemicals but the laser lights may cause changes in the texture and color of the skin.
- Endovenous Ablation Therapy: This is a recent method that uses radio waves or laser to heat up a varicose vein and there by close it off. It can be done as outpatients and requires around 40 minutes to complete. The doctor makes a cut on the skin and inserts a catheter with a device at the tip into the vein and this device produce laser that heats up the interior of the vein and closes it. While performing this procedure doctor will numb the area to avoid sensation and it may cause a mild bruising.
- Surgery : Surgery is recommended only for patients who are not getting relief from self-care or are facing skin ulcers, bleeding etc. If it’s for cosmetic purpose then surgery is not a good idea. Surgery can be either vein stripping or vein ligation. Vein ligation is performed by making an incision that measures 2 to 4 cm at the groin and then identify the vein and tie it. Vein Stripping is another procedure in which two incisions are made one at the knee and other at the groin to insert a tunneling device beneath the skin. Thereafter the saphenous vein is pulled out through this tunnel. This procedure requires 5 to 10 days of recovery period. Avulsion is another surgery in which varicose veins on the surface of the skin are removed after making tiny incisions on the skin.
- Lifestyle Changes : Lifestyle plays a major role in the severity of varicose vein. People having varicose vein should take foods that are rich in vitamin A, vitamin B complex, vitamin C and vitamin E as all these vitamins helps to keep the walls of the blood vessels strong, improve the circulation of blood, boost the healing of sores and reduce the pain and discomfort associated with varicose vein. Also increase the fiber content in the food by choosing whole grains, fruits, vegetables etc and avoid refined, processed and fried foods, sweets, ice-cream, alcohol, beverages etc. Smoking should be discontinued as it increases the blood pressure. Regular exercise or yoga should be incorporated in the routine as it assists in improving the blood circulation and keep the leg muscles strong. Avoid overweight as it increases the problems of varicose vein. Along with diet and exercise, the patients should drink enough water. Also avoid wearing ill-fitting shoes and tight fit belts and clothing as all of which aggravates the symptoms.
- Compression Stockings: Wear compression stockings but care should be taken to wear them in the morning and before getting out of the bed. This is because after walking for a while the blood gets congested in the dilated vein and hence it does not cause much benefit. On wearing the stockings right on the bed reduced the blood pressure in the veins and the compression on the leg reduces the black flow of the blood in the veins and more over it reduces the pain and heaviness on the legs.
- Cold and Hot compression : Alternate cold and hot compression provide great relief from the pain and burning sensations. Apply hot compression on the affected area for three minutes and then substitute it with cold compression for thirty seconds. Repeat this procedure thrice a day and end the compression with cold pack. Massaging the affected legs gently from toe to hip provides great relief. Usage of rosemary or geranium oil mixed with any carrier oil will provide better relief. People having varicose vein should take enough rest and while sitting try to keep the affected legs in an elevated position.
Photo Credit: Lookhealthy.org
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