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Varicose veins are a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. They are characterized by swollen, twisted veins typically visible on the legs and feet.
While varicose veins are frequently considered solely a cosmetic concern, they can also be harmful and risky for your health.
As vein specialists based in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area, we provide vein treatment to patients who are experiencing a variety of symptoms related to varicose veins.
In this article, we will explore what causes varicose veins, when your varicose veins can become a cause for concern — and how to get rid of your varicose veins for good.
How do varicose veins develop?
Varicose veins are caused by damaged or weak valves in the veins that pump blood back to the heart. When these valves fail, blood can flow backward and pool in the vein, causing it to swell and twist.
The most common causes of varicose veins are:
- Heredity: If your family has a history of varicose veins, you may be at a higher risk of developing them.
- Pregnancy: The hormonal changes and increased blood flow that occur during pregnancy can cause varicose veins to develop.
- Obesity: Being overweight or obese can put extra pressure on the veins in your legs, making it more difficult for them to pump blood back to the heart.
- Prolonged standing or sitting: People who stand or sit for long periods of time are at a higher risk of developing varicose veins, as this can cause blood to pool in the legs.
- Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes that occur during puberty, menopause, and pregnancy can also contribute to the development of varicose veins.
What is the right time to seek treatment?
While varicose veins can be unsightly, they are not always a serious health concern. However, they can cause common symptoms such as leg pain, cramping, and fatigue — and occasionally, more serious symptoms that can lead to dramatic health outcomes.
You should seek treatment for varicose veins if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Pain or discomfort in the legs, particularly when standing or sitting for long periods of time
- Swelling or heaviness in the legs
- Aching or cramping in the legs
- Restless legs
- Itching or burning in the legs
- Skin discoloration or thickening around the affected veins
- Ulcers or sores on the skin near the affected veins
- Bleeding from varicose veins
While these symptoms alone are not always a cause of concern, they can be indicative of bigger problems — or simply be a sign that you should be more conscious of your varicose veins in case issues present themselves in the future.
If you have varicose veins and are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to schedule an appointment with a vein specialist as soon as possible. They will be able to perform a physical examination and any necessary tests, such as an ultrasound, to determine the best course of treatment for your specific case if such treatment is required.
Again, while most varicose vein concerns are cosmetic, it is important to note that varicose veins can also be a symptom of a deeper problem. For example, one such problem is chronic venous insufficiency, a condition that can lead to severe complications such as blood clots, skin ulcers, and bleeding.
Even if you do not have any symptoms, it’s still a good idea to be evaluated by a vein specialist to ensure that you are not at risk of developing severe complications.
How do you prevent varicose veins from forming?
Prevention is vital when it comes to varicose veins. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and a healthy weight, can help prevent varicose veins from developing.
Wearing compression stockings, avoiding prolonged periods of standing or sitting, and elevating your legs when you’re sitting can also help prevent varicose veins from forming.
For more information, we’ve detailed how to prevent varicose veins in a complete guide available on our site.
What are the treatments available for varicose veins?
There are several treatment options available for varicose veins, including:
- Sclerotherapy: This is a minimally invasive procedure in which a solution is injected into the vein to cause it to collapse and seal shut.
- Endovenous radio frequency ablation: A minimally invasive procedure in which a radio frequency is used to heat and close the affected vein.
- Microphlebectomy: A surgical procedure that involves removing the varicose vein through small incisions in the skin.
- VenaSeal: A minimally invasive procedure to close off the veins without using heat.
The choice of treatment will depend on several factors, including the size, location, and severity of your varicose veins, as well as your overall health and personal preferences. If you visit our Milwaukee, Wisconsin-area clinic, one of our vein specialists can advise you on the best treatment for your specific case.
If you’re interested in vein treatment, get in contact today.