Varicose veins - photo by Thomas Pix

Varicose Veins – Causes, Treatment and Therapy

Varicose veins - photo by Thomas PixWhat Are Varicose Veins?

These are enlarged leg veins caused when the flow of blood causes areas of the veins to swell up. The veins often have a blue and bulging appearance. Varicose veins happens when blood returning to the heart against gravity flows back into the vein through a faulty valve, causing the vein to become twisted and swollen, this condition is rarely dangerous. They are common is older people.

Causes of Varicose Ulcers

When varicose veins occur the flow of blood back into the veins lead to continuous high blood pressure in the leg, which can cause ulcers, mainly at the ankles, and it can be accompanied by swelling and red, itchy, scaly skin around the ulcer.

When a cut occurs in the skin of the leg, it may fail to heal due to poor blood flow. This can turn into an ulcer or a shallow wound that may contain pus and become infected. The ulcers can last for months or sometimes years, special care and dressing can help to speed the healing process.

If you have an ulcer it is important to see your doctor as it can also be related to arteriosclerosis, hypertension, diabetes, mellitus and smoking.


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Statistically, men are more likely to develop varicose veins than women.

Genetic Causes

A genetic cause is when there are defective veins which prevent normal blood flow. Over time this problem causes pockets to form in the veins where the blood accumulates. Also faulty valves, which are in blood vessels to control the flow of blood around the body, can cause blood to flow in the wrong direction and then accumulate.

When there is a defective vein causing the problem this is actually good news for the patient as a doctor knows that removal of the cause should in most cases mean that the problem will not return.

Easing Aching Varicose Veins

The aching related to Varicose Veins can be eased with the following steps:

  • Avoid standing for long periods of time.
  • Keep feet elevated when sitting or lying down.
  • Wear support hose or elastic bandages.

Small varicose veins, also called spider veins, can be treated with sclerotherapy injections or laser therapy. Severe cases of varicose veins can be treated with surgery or radio frequency treatments.

Surgery

Surgery is today rather straightforward and is a quick and relatively pain-free procedure. However, surgery is rarely provided by the NHS or health insurance.


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Surgery is generally performed by either cutting and stripping the vein out or by laser keyhole surgery, which sees a very thin tube inserted along a vein and then a burst of heat burns and cauterizes the vein.

When surgery is used “punctures” are made through the skin to provide access to the veins and then the veins cut in stages before being pulled out.

Recovering from Varicose Vein Surgery

In the days following varicose vein surgery there can be a lot of pain, especially if the veins were removed from your legs. However, the pain can often be quickly alleviated by sitting with your legs elevated.

The pain is caused by the pressure of the blood pushing against the wounds, so the easiest way to reduce pain is to sit with your foot on a stool, and keep your leg elevated when sleeping – just put your foot on a pillow.

Painkillers can be taken, however, with proper pain management they are not needed – plus taking the pressure off your legs may speed the healing process.

Famous Celebrities with Varicose Veins

Having varicose veins is nothing to be ashamed of. Many famous celebrities have suffered from the condition.

Emma Thompson, Ulrika Jonsson and Britney Spears have all suffered with varicose veins, as well as  Kristin Davis (Sex in the City). And it is possible that their children will also develop the condition as varicose veins often have a genetic cause.

Medical Advice and Resources on Varicose Veins

Varicose veins  – NHS Choices

Varicose veins – BUPA

Veins / What are varicose veins? –  Circulation Foundation

It’s NOT just women who get varicose veins: Look at your other half’s legs – you may be in for a shock – Daily Mail Online

Get Smooth Sexy Legs – Shape.com

Photo credit: “Left calf and varicose veins” by Thomas Kriese

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