Varicose veins are twisted, swollen blood vessels that create a bulge under the surface of your skin. These purple or blue bulges usually appear in your feet, legs, and ankles and can sometimes be itchy or painful. Varicose veins are often surrounded by spider veins, which are purple or red smaller lines appearing close to the surface of the skin.
Although varicose veins can be uncomfortable or unsightly, they aren’t dangerous in most cases. However, in some cases, the condition can get serious, leading to serious health problems like development of blood clots. Some of the symptoms of varicose veins can be controlled with conservative treatment but if the symptoms are extensive, surgery or laser therapy may be needed.
Spider and varicose veins are both venous diseases but they present differently. Varicose veins are larger than spider veins. Spider veins appear like blue or red branches of a tree or spider webs, and they lie close to the surface of the skin.
Spider veins usually don’t cause pain. They can occur anywhere on the body but are most commonly found on the feet, behind the knee, or on the face. Varicose veins usually appear on your legs or feet.
Anyone can get varicose veins. However, the presence of certain factors that increase your chances of varicose veins. Those are:
Varicose veins are an extremely common condition. In fact, one in every three adults has them. The condition is more common in females than in males.
One of the most prominent symptoms of varicose veins is a purple or blue gnarled vein just under the surface of the skin. The other noticeable symptoms of varicose veins include:
Varicose veins most commonly affect the lower half of the body, including the ankles, calves, and feet. They can also affect the pelvic area, especially in those who have had children. If varicose veins affect the testicles, it can lead to infertility.
Varicose veins occur due to the weakening of the venous walls. As the venous blood pressure increases, the walls get weakened which allows the veins to get bigger. As the veins undergo stretching, the valves inside the veins that allow the blood to move in only one direction cease to function normally. Sluggish blood pools or backs up in your veins causing them to bulge, swell, or twist.
The walls and valves of the veins can weaken for many different reasons including as a part of the ageing process, hormones, restrictive clothing, excess weight, or build up of pressure inside the vein due to standing for extended periods of time.
Varicose veins are easy to see as they lie close to the skin’s surface. The condition is usually diagnosed by healthcare providers during a physical examination. They will examine your veins while you are standing or sitting and even feel them. Apart from that, your healthcare provider may ask you to get an ultrasound of your veins to see detailed images of your veins or look for complications. It is a painless and safe test that employs sound waves to create pictures of internal tissues. Ultrasounds can also reveal how well the valves are working and if there are any blood clots.
Although there is no definitive cure for varicose veins, certain treatment options are available to relieve discomfort and reduce their appearance, including:
Many patients who have undergone surgical stripping get varicose veins again at some point in their lives. Varicose veins can also recur after endovenous ablation. The potential side effects of the treatment for varicose veins include skin burns, scarring, nerve injury, infections, and deep vein thrombosis ( a condition characterised by development of a blood clot in a vein deep inside the body).
The side effects of sclerotherapy include development of brown areas on the skin where the needle touched, bruising or redness lasting for a few days, and hardness and lumps for a few months. New varicose veins can develop as a result of sclerotherapy which may require further treatment.
While varicose veins can’t be completely prevented, you can decrease your chances of getting them by following a healthy and active lifestyle. Following are some of the measures that doctors recommend for prevention and treatment of varicose veins:
Varicose veins are usually not dangerous and don’t give rise to long-term complications. Most people with varicose veins are, however, concerned with the way they look. Even though they may experience some degree of discomfort, complications are rare.
If varicose veins occur during a pregnancy, those may go away on their own within 2-3 weeks of delivery. For some other people, the condition may keep on recurring after treatment.
If left untreated, varicose veins can cause bleeding, ulcers, and skin discolouration. Chronic venous insufficiency may give rise to severe varicose veins, which may affect the ability of your veins to pump blood into your heart.
Those with varicose veins are more susceptible to developing blood clots. Therefore, your healthcare provider will assess and monitor your for conditions associated with blood clotting including:
Varicose veins tend to recur after treatment, especially in females who become pregnant post treatment. You have an increased chance of recurrence of varicose veins if you have a sedentary lifestyle or are obese.
Although varicose veins are usually not life-threatening, you should visit a healthcare provider if you suspect having them. If you are located in Indore, you can visit the Varicose Veins Clinic at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Indore and get an appointment with an expert doctor who will guide you to the next step. Our medical staff is highly qualified and has years of experience in the field. They evaluate every patient thoroughly and formulate tailored treatment plans that best suit their individual needs. Our goal is to provide the best possible medical treatment and care to all our patients and deliver optimum medical attention at all times.