According to the American Society for Vascular Surgery, at least 20 to 25 million Americans have varicose veins. Further statistics showed that 17% of men and 33% of women have varicose veins.
The veins rarely need to be treated unless the condition causes swelling and aching that it causes considerable discomfort and impedes your daily activities.
There are various options, including some home remedies that can effectively reduce the appearance of varicose veins. In this article, we will also discuss some ways to prevent the formation of varicose veins.
What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are dark blue or purple veins that form a bulge underneath the skin. As we age, the walls of the veins weaken, causing varicose veins to form, most commonly found in the legs.
Doctors also attribute the formation of varicose veins to the loss of elasticity of the vein walls, leading to an inability of the blood to flow freely. Most adults with varicose veins can see and feel them. In some severe cases, people may experience a variety of symptoms along with the condition.
Some common complaints include soreness at the site, regular muscle cramps, ulcers on the skin, swelling of the legs, itchiness, and restless legs.
People who are most susceptible to develop the condition are people who struggle with their weight, people who are currently or have been pregnant, or people with some predisposition to vein diseases.
Treatment for varicose veins
Doctors recommend that if there is no discomfort or symptoms and if you are not bothered by its appearance, treatment may not be necessary. However, you should seek treatment if the symptoms are causing discomfort.
SURGERY Large varicose veins are best removed surgically. This is done under general anesthesia. The removal of varicose veins can be done as a day operation and you can go home on the same day after the surgery. You may be required to spend at least a night in the hospital if surgery is performed on both legs.
LASER Some doctors may use laser treatments to close off smaller veins and spider veins. Strong bursts of light are applied on the skin to gradually reduce the appearance of the veins.
SCLEROTHERAPY Some doctors offer this treatment to address the unsightly purplish veins. It is one of the most common treatments for varicose veins. It involves using a salt solution to inject directly into the vein. The salt solution flushes the lining of the blood vessels, causing it to collapse and stick together. Repeated treatment may be required, and results can be seen in about 2 weeks.
RADIOFREQUENCY ABLATION It is a minimally invasive procedure that uses radiofrequency energy to heat up and damage the wall inside the veins. Radiofrequency energy is directed through a catheter inserted through a small incision in the vein. This closes off the varicose veins in the leg.
After the treatment, your doctor will advise you to wear compression stockings for about a week to improve the results of the treatment.
How to prevent formation of varicose veins
According to Dr. Siew Tuck Wah, Medical Director of Radium Medical Aesthetics, understanding the causes of varicose veins is the first step towards prevention. There are some risk factors such as genetics and pregnancy which cannot be overcome, but with certain lifestyle changes, a reduction in the formation of varicose veins is possible.
First and foremost, leading a healthy, active lifestyle is the best way to avoid formation of varicose veins. This means keeping a balanced diet and have a regular routine of physical activity. Maintaining a healthy weight eliminates the excess pressure on the legs, leading to lower possibility of varicose veins.
In addition to exercise and maintaining a healthy diet, older adults should include a routine that includes taking short breaks throughout the day. Standing up from your desk to walk around encourages blood flow and circulation in the legs.
Avoid wearing high heels and uncomfortable shoes that put excess pressure on the calves and legs.
The combination of these minor lifestyle changes can have a drastic, positive impact on the formation of varicose veins in adults.