Treatments for varicose veins
What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are swollen, lumpy and enlarged veins that usually occur in the legs, caused by inefficient valves which lead to blood pooling rather than pumping away as it should.
They are often blue or dark purple in colour making them very noticeable even through tights/stockings.
The bumpy, twisted and bulging appearance of varicose veins is only part of the problem. They also cause great discomfort.
Varicose veins symptoms:
- Legs may feel achy or heavy
- Swelling around the ankles/feet due to the poor circulation
- Muscle cramps or night cramp
- Changes in the skin called varicose eczema
Varicose vein treatment
Varicose veins do not tend to get better and can actually get worse with time if not treated. The veins themselves provide no real purpose removal of them is perfectly safe and worthwhile.
Spider veins, thread veins
Why do varicose veins appear?
In a healthy vein, blood flows smoothly to the heart through the body’s network of veins and capillaries. Small valves inside the veins work continuously to push the blood around the body circulating nutrients and removing toxins, sending blood to the heart. The valves also prevent the blood from flowing backwards.
Varicose veins occur when these tiny valves stop working efficiently. If the valves become inefficient, weak or damaged, the blood can collect in the vein which cases it to be swollen and enlarged. This is the condition known as varicose veins.
Who is at risk of varicose veins?
Varicose veins are a common condition, affecting up to three in 10 adults. Women tend to be more affected than men.
Varicose veins risk factors include:
- genetic predisposition (hereditary condition)
- being overweight
- old age
- excessive standing or walking, which puts pressure on the lower body area
In the case of weight or pregnancy related varicose veins, it may be a temporary condition which can be relieved through weight loss.
How can I prevent varicose veins?
The first line of treatment is prevention – losing any excess weight. The second option would be to use compression stockings which improve circulation in the legs and to raise the leg area regularly.
However, if this is not effective, achievable or practical and the varicose veins are causing embarrassment or discomfort or they cause complications then treatment options privately may be considered.
Can I get treatment on the NHS?
Although varicose veins may have an unpleasant appearance, they should not affect circulation or cause long-term health problems. Therefore the NHS offers very little treatment for varicose veins and resources are being further cut at present.
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