At this time of the year there usually there is a lot of interest in the treatment of varicose veins. With summertime looming and the temperatures still not too warm to wear compression stockings, it seems an ideal time to treat varicose veins.
Varicose veins are enlarged veins that are swollen, tortuous and raised above the surface of the skin. They can be dark purple or blue and looked twisted and bulging. Varicose veins commonly found on the back of the calves or on the inside of the leg and they can affect one out of two people over the age of 50. They are more common in women than men. There are several factors that increase your risk of varicose veins. They include family history, age, female gender and pregnancy, lack of movement and being over weight or obese also promote varicose veins.
Veins are blood vessels that carry the blood from your body tissues to your heart. The heart pumps the blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen. This oxygen rich blood is them pumped out to your body through your arteries. From the arteries the blood flows through tiny blood vessels called capillaries where it gives up the oxygen to the body tissues. This blood then returns to the heart through your veins to pick up more oxygen.
The veins in the legs must work against gravity to do this. The one-way valves inside the veins open to let the blood flow through and then shut to keep the blood from flowing backwards. If these valves are weak or damaged blood can back up and pool in your veins and this causes them to swell. Weak valves may also be due to weak vein walls. When the walls of the veins are weak they lose their normal elasticity and they become like an overstretched rubber band. This makes the walls of the veins longer and wider and causes the flaps of the valves to separate. This separation of the valve flaps causes the blood to flow backwards. The backflow of blood fills the veins and causes the walls to stretch even further. As a result the veins get bigger, swell and often get twisted as they try to squeeze into their normal space. These are varicose veins.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS & SYMPTOMS OF VARICOSE VEINS?
– Varicose veins may be only of cosmetic significance and been seen as ugly large veins.
– There can be mild swelling of the ankles and feet
– They may be painful, achy or ‘heavy’ legs
– They can cause throbbing or cramping your legs
– There can be itchy legs especially on the lower leg and ankle. This can be sometimes incorrectly diagnosed as dry skin.
– There may be discoloured skin in the area around the varicose vein
– Skin ulcers on the lower legs can be present, caused by the skin irritation. These ulcers are difficult to heal.
HOW ARE VARICOSE VEINS TREATED?
Traditionally they have been treated by surgery using a tying and stripping method. Currently an easy procedure called Sclerotherapy involving tiny injections of a chemical irritant is used. This creates a reaction called ‘sclerosis’ in the varicose vein thereby closing it. The procedure is painless, done without anaesthesia and involves no time off work.
The liquid can be foamed to get better results or sclerosis can be achieved with a laser beam. The treatment is followed up by wearing some compression stockings for a few days.
Spider veins, which are smaller varicose veins, can be treated similarly with sclerotherapy or better with a KTP532 laser.
WHAT CAN BE DONE TO PREVENT VARICOSE VEINS?
* Losing weight might improve blood flow and eases the pressure on the veins. Physical ability helps to get the legs moving and involves muscle tone that helps blood flow. Avoid wearing high heels and comfortable (not too tight) clothing is helpful.
* Compression medical stockings can be worn to ease the symptoms and reduce the rate of the varicose veins.
* There are some natural herbal remedies that can provide relief and symptoms and progression of varicose vein disease. These are extracts of horse chestnuts and antioxidants from grape seed extract.
At the Wellness Centre and Cosmedics we offer advice and treatment for varicose veins with natural products, Ultrasound Guided Foam Sclerotherapy.