Have twisted, enlarged veins in your legs? Varicose veins develop when the valves in our veins stop working properly and the blood pools in the lower half of the body.
It is a debilitating condition that predominantly affects women and, if left untreated, evolves into far more serious symptoms that can result in irreversible skin damage at later stages.
From visible veins to aches and swelling
In the early stages, varicose veins can just be visible in the thighs or calves.
However, it is common for patients to also experience feelings of discomfort, aches, as well as heaviness and swelling in the legs.
If left untreated, varicose veins can evolve into skin discolouration, open sores or ulcers.
As such, it is critical that patients are empowered with the knowledge to spot and report the symptoms to specialists that will be able to prescribe the necessary mode of action.
Hormonal changes and family history a major cause
Women are more susceptible to varicose veins because of our hormonal changes.
However, family history and obesity also play a part in the development of varicose veins, as does standing for long periods of time.
A lower quality of life is one of the complications
Varicose veins are a progressive condition that only reduces one’s quality of life.
A study showed that one in three patients will face serious complications like vein ruptures and heavy bleeding within six years should they leave varicose veins untreated.
In addition, blood clots have also been reported in patients that have severe varicose veins, which can result in severe swelling and even deep vein thrombosis. Untreated varicose veins also run the risk of developing venous ulcers, which are highly disfiguring.
Five treatment options available
The condition is diagnosed via an ultrasound examination and there are five treatment options available.
The treatment options vary depending on the severity of their condition as well as their doctor’s recommendations, and entail sclerotherapy (where a solution is injected directly into a vein; thermal closure (whether laser or radiofrequency); non-thermal vein closure therapy (involving tissue “glue” or sclerosants) and stripping.
All these procedures work towards the common goal of treating varicose veins and restoring the patient’s quality of life exponentially.
Some ways to promote a healthy vascular system
Although varicose veins should not be treated using home-based treatments, there are many lifestyle choices that we can all adopt to promote a healthy vascular system, like moving about regularly; avoiding prolonged standing and taking rests every 10 to 15 minutes; and maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine.