Varicose veins – best treatment options
Varicose veins are a relatively common and painful condition, with over 10 million cases in India each year. Scientifically referred to as varicose or varicosities, this condition is caused by your veins becoming swollen, dilated, and overloaded with blood.
To the naked eye, varicose veins may look bluish-purple, and sometimes red. The most common cases of varicose veins are in the lower parts of your legs. This is because they are the furthest from your heart, and gravity prevents the blood from automatically flowing upwards.
Causes of Varicose veins
The primary cause of varicose veins is a problem with the way your veins function. The blood in your veins flows in one direction, controlled by valves. The function of this process is to ensure your blood is pumped effectively through the body. But in some cases, the valves stop working. This causes the blood to enlarge the appearance of your veins by collecting in them.
This condition could be brought up by other changes in your body that put a lot of pressure on your abdomen or legs. It could also be a result of your lifestyle or certain habits that you practice. Some of these have been mentioned below:
- Work that involves standing for long periods
- Little to no physical exertion
An increase in age can also cause varicose veins, especially in individuals who are over 50 years old, as veins can weaken with age. You are likely to get varicose veins if there is a family history of the condition.
Symptoms of Varicose veins
The most common symptoms of varicosity are the appearance of the veins. The enlarged veins are almost always superficial veins that lie just below the surface of your skin. In addition to the veins looking bluish, enlarged capillaries in the vicinity give the appearance of a spider web. This condition is known as spider veins.
In some cases, although quite rare, the affected vein could be one of the interior ones of the leg, causing more pain than usual.
Since this condition is most common in the legs, it may also be accompanied by swollen ankles and itchy skin.
Prevention of Varicose veins
In the case of mild varicose veins, you need not visit a doctor. You can try the following tips for the prevention and treatment of varicose veins:
- Move around more, so the pressure on your legs is relieved. Avoid standing in one place for a long time.
- Monitor your weight carefully to ensure you are at a healthy weight. As we have mentioned, obesity can be a cause of venous diseases.
- Incorporate exercise in your daily routine as a varicose treatment. This will improve your blood circulation and reduce the chances of you developing varicose veins.
- Use compression socks or stockings to reduce the pressure on your legs and allow blood to flow more freely to the heart.
- When you are sitting, keep your legs at an elevated level.
If you see that these methods are not working for you, it may be time for you to consult a vein doctor.
Varicose veins treatment options
The vein specialist will provide several procedures to treat varicose veins. The three most common varicose veins treatment methods are as follows:
Varicose vein surgery is one of the main ways to address the condition if the previously suggested remedies don’t work and if varicose veins lower your overall functioning.
Endoscopic vein surgery involves blocking off the vein through an invasive process. A scope is inserted via an incision, which then blocks off the vein.
Since surgery is an invasive way to treat the condition, over time, this has been replaced by less invasive methods.
This method involves injecting a solution into the vein to cause the blood vessels therein to collapse and the blood to clot. Over time, this fades into scar tissue and is no longer painful or a cause of varicose veins.
Sclerotherapy is considered a more useful way to deal with the problem of varicose or spider veins. A small Indian study found that ultrasound-guided foam sclerotherapy proved to be more effective in treating primary varicose veins than surgery.
However, it is vital to inquire about the sclerotherapy cost before choosing to go with it.
3. Endovenous Ablation therapy
Endovenous ablation therapy can help you deal with the irritation and pain that comes with varicose veins, in a less invasive manner than surgery. In this process, the doctor burns and closes each varicose vein. This is done using radiofrequency or light energy and leaves almost no scars.
4. Transilluminated Powered Phlebectomy
Although this process is invasive, it is not as invasive as surgery. A special light known as an endoscopic transilluminator is placed under the skin using a small incision. This light is then used to cut off the problematic vein, which is removed using suction. You may have some bruising for a few days following this procedure; however, this will fade with time.
When to consult a doctor
In the case that you feel or see any of the following symptoms, you should make an appointment with a trained medical professional who can advise you on the best course of treatment.
- Your ankles or lower parts of your legs swell up
- Your veins cause intense pain when you are standing or walking
- The pain does not decrease with compression stockings
- The swelling, itchiness, colour change in your veins drastically increases suddenly
- A ‘pulling’ feeling in your calf, along with pain and redness. If this is also accompanied by a warmth when you touch, it could indicate a blood clot that you should address immediately
- Sores on or near the varicose veins
- Thicker, differently coloured skin near your ankles and calves or where the varicose veins are most present
Keep in mind that not treating venous diseases in the initial stages can cause serious problems in the long run.
It is in the interest of the patient to keep an eye out for any varicose veins beginning to stand out. If you just see varicose veins form, the home remedies suggested may help you control it at the outset. However, if the varicose veins interfere with your daily activities, book an appointment at the vein centre closest to you for varicose veins pain relief.