Did you know it’s a misconception that varicose veins are only a cosmetic issue? Here’s three things you need to know about varicose veins – including treatment options.
First off: What causes varicose veins?
Varicose veins (also known as dilated veins) are the result of increased pressure in the leg veins – similar to what causes spider veins. This increased pressure can be due to multiple reasons – weakness in the vein valves (known as venous insufficiency), blood clots, compression of the vein or lifestyle. According to the American Heart Association, approximately 30 million American adults have varicose veins.
Burning, redness and pain are common symptoms associated with varicose veins. Increased pressure in the leg veins can lead to disabling swelling, heaviness, tiredness and pain that can limit your daily activities. You can also develop discoloration, itching and wounds. If not treated, worsening pressure can lead to increased leg swelling, wounds and possibly blood clots.
How do you know if you have varicose veins?
Varicose veins are diagnosed by a physical exam and should be part of your annual physical. Some common risk factors for developing varicose veins include:
- Family history of vein disease
- Female gender
- Prolonged standing
Are compression stockings the only treatment option?
Compression stockings (not socks) can help reduce the pressure in your leg veins, which can decrease the size of varicose veins and improve symptoms. Prescription compression stockings are designed to apply different amounts of pressure, which helps fluid circulate evenly through.
However, compression stockings are not your only treatment option. Other common outpatient treatment options include:
- Sclerotherapy: A procedure that involves an injection of a solution into the vein, causing them to collapse and disappear.
- Laser ablation: A procedure in which a laser stops the vein from weakening, reducing the pressure in the vein.
- Varicose vein phlebectomy: A procedure that uses needles to remove veins just below the surface of the skin.
Remember: If you are experiencing any symptoms of varicose veins, it’s important to talk to your doctor about your options, including seeing a vascular surgeon.
Visit Ochsner Total Health Solutions to find compression stockings and other compression products at ochsner.org/ths