Varicose veins known as varicosity refers to a condition in which the veins of the leg become dilated. These veins look abnormally swollen, engorged, twisted and may be very painful. They appear dark blue or purple in colour. They tend to develop when blood flow in the veins slows down due to intrinsic defects of superficial veins or incompetent valves of the deep venous system of our legs.
The circulatory system is made up of the heart, veins, and arteries. Arteries carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to nourish your tissues, while veins have one-way valves which channel oxygen-depleted blood back toward the heart. The valves located within the deep venous system of the legs prevent backflow of the blood. When these valves become incompetent, they fail to prevent backflow of blood into the superficial venous system and leads to engorgement of the superficial leg veins.
What are the causes?
Before seeking the varicose veins treatment, one should be aware of the causes of varicose veins. Factors that can be considered as the cause of varicose veins include:
Poor functioning of venous valves is the main cause of varicosity.
Obesity, prolonged standing, menopause, pregnancy, chronic constipation or even a tumour in rare cases also cause varicose veins.
Heredity is an important aspect in the development of Varicose Veins. Women with a family history of varicose veins are at higher risk of developing this disease than others.
Diet may be a factor, modern diet habits with a high content of fat and refined sugar with low fibre content may contribute to the development of the disease.
Varices increase in frequency with aging as the veins lose its elasticity. But it may appear even in children.
Deep venous thrombosis or blood clot in the veins is also a cause.
Here are some of the symptoms
Varicose veins may cause aching of the legs. The legs may feel heavy, tender or sore after standing for a prolonged time.
Varicose veins can become sore, itchy and inflamed, causing redness of the skin around them.
Some other symptoms include swelling, twisting or bulging in veins.
Prominent blue or dark purple blood vessels on thighs or calf muscles can be seen.
The irregular whitish patches on the ankles that look like scars, swollen ankles or skin shrinking above the ankles are also common things that indicate varicose veins. If veins become flaky, discoloured, ulcerated and prone to bleeding, consult a doctor for the best treatment of varicose veins.
Possible Complications in Varicose Veins
Any condition in which proper blood flow is hindered has a risk of complications. The varicose veins may cause Bleeding, blood clots in the veins of the leg, which cause inflammation of the vein, varicose eczema, hard and tight skin. While some other complications are venous ulcers around ankles, which may cause skin discoloration and scars. Varicose veins may also be a symptom that indicates a risk vein thrombosis or other circulatory system disorders. It is important to get varicose veins treatments before any complications occur.
Best Possible Treatments
If the patient has no symptoms or discomfort treatment might not be necessary. However, if there are symptoms, treatment may be required to reduce pain or discomfort and address complications. Some patients may also want treatment for cosmetic reasons to get rid of the varicose veins.
Varicose veins surgery is needed only if affected veins are larger. This is usually done under local anaesthesia. In case of one leg, the patient is discharged the same day. If surgery is required on both legs, they may need to spend one night in the hospital.
Laser treatments – Most Renowned
Laser treatments are used to block off smaller veins. Laser light is applied to the vein, which makes them gradually fade and disappear. This treatment doesn’t use needles or incisions. Laser treatments for varicose veins last for 15 to 20 minutes. Depending on the severity of the veins, two to five sessions are generally needed to remove spider veins in the legs.
This technique includes stripping if the diseased vein in legs are really big with bigger veins leaking due to damaged valves . The patients will need 2-6 weeks to recover before going back to work and other normal duties.
A solution is injected into the affected vein, that scar and closes small and medium-sized varicose veins. A few weeks later, they should fade. A vein may need more than one session.
This method uses radio frequency energy to heat up the vein, causing its walls to collapse, effectively closing it and sealing it shut. This procedure is preferred for larger varicose veins and is usually done under regional anaesthesia.
Endovenous laser treatment
A catheter is inserted into larger varicose veins and the tip of the catheter is heated. The heat causes the vein to block off. This procedure is done under local anaesthesia. There may be some minor nerve injury.
You may need ultrasound or venogram to check for any disorder in your veins.
Ultrasound helps in checking your blood flow. It is a non-invasive test done using high-frequency sound waves.
Venogram test is done for further access to your veins. An X-ray is taken by injecting a dye into your veins to get a better view of blood flow.
Recovery from the treatments will take minimum a day or maximum one and a half months depending on the severity. During the recovery time, compression stockings are worn.