A lot of the time the body is efficient when it comes to moving blood around and ensuring each part has a full supply. Arteries take it from the heart to the rest of the body, and the veins take it on the reverse journey. Veins are full of valves and these are designed to stop the blood going in the opposite direction. As long as these valves are in good condition there will not be a problem and the blood will flow as it should. There are times when this is not going to happen, and it is referred to as venous insufficiency. The consequences of this are both painful and inconvenient. Blood will pool near to the bottom of the feet and veins will begin to bulge. When this happens, they are known as varicose veins. There are a few treatments that can be carried out, minimally invasive procedures are preferred in comparison with vein removal and surgery methods from the past.
Varicose Vein Prevention
It is not completely possible to prevent varicose veins from occurring, but there are things that are known to make them worse. Deep vein thrombosis is the main cause – this is the medical term for blood clots – and sometimes they can be hereditary. Even when this is the case, there is a way to give yourself a better chance of not developing them. Women tend to suffer from them at an earlier age than men as they find them appearing between the ages of 40 and 50, while men tend to avoid them until they reach the 70 – 80 age group. Although, vein disease is hereditary and any age could be affected. The mean reasons are: –
- Blood clots – this can happen at any time, but long periods of immobility increase the risk of them forming. It is for this reason that flight socks should be worn on long flights and are given to patients in hospital who will be bed bound for some time. The clot will prevent more blood going up the vein and as a result the vein will expand and bulge before eventually becoming a varicose vein.
- Obesity – when you are overweight, there will be additional pressure put on the legs and therefore also on the veins. This pressure will weaken the valves and lead to varicose veins, so keeping at a sensible weight is going to reduce your potential for developing them.
- Pregnancy – again this will partly be weight connected, and this is only going to get worse the more pregnancies that there are. Up to three is not too much, but once it is more than that they will be very difficult to get rid of. Treatment should not be delayed as the longer it is left the worse it will be.
- Smoking – when you smoke you run the risk of atherosclerosis – this is the built up of plaque in the arteries – and this will make it difficult for blood to flow freely. When the blood is blocked from free movement the veins will begin to expand.
- Muscle weakness – when this happens, it is not possible for the muscles to push the blood at a speed that it needs to go. If it is left in the lower part of the body, it will prevent the normal amount reaching other area.
- Phlebitis – this is the name given when a vein has become inflamed and can no longer let the blood flow freely through them. Once this happens they will be beyond help and will have to be dealt with and put out of commission.
- Hereditary – when this is the case, it is just a matter of having the problem treated. You can’t help your genes, but you can take advantage of the treatment, or remember about looking after your weight and not smoking.
- Inactivity – if you have a sedentary lifestyle, you are putting yourself at high risk. This just not just relate to when seated, but jobs that require you to stand for long periods are also putting you at risk. Movement a couple of times an hour could be the difference between developing them and having healthy veins.
There are many symptoms of venous deficiency and if you feel that this is the condition you have, then you need to seek medical attention so that they can be treated. The symptoms will be – painful and swollen legs, cramp and heaviness, twitching, skin becoming thicker and changing colour and even ulcers.
Diagnosis will be thorough and can be carried out by your the best vein doctor in the specialist office . They should have your medical history, but if for some reason they do not, then they will question you. They will also carry out a hands-on examination and to get clearer information, they will arrange for tests to be carried out. Usually this will include a duplex ultrasound or a venogram. If a venogram is required, an IV will put a dye into the vein and this dye will show the veins as opaque and much easier to study.
When Duplex ultrasound is used, it is meant to determine the direction that the blood flows. This will show if it is going the right way or not managing to get back up towards the heart. Gel is applied then a transducer is placed on the skin. Sound waves will be relayed back to a computer and this will give the vascular sonographer an image of the way the blood is flowing. If it seems that there is a blockage then arrangements will be made for treatment to begin.
The treatment is going to depend upon several factors. The main ones will be the reason that you have the problem and the other will be your general overall health. The doctor will also need to consider a number of factors including your age, exact condition, how serious the problem is, and how well you are going to be able to stand up to the procedure and cope with the recovery process. Treatments range from quite basic up to invasive procedures.
- Prescription stockings – pressure will be applied to the lower leg and ankle, and this will allow the blood to flow more easily. It will also help to bring down the swelling. The only thing to look out for is level of strength. Too loose will not do any good and too tight will cause other issues.
- Improve blood flow – this can be done by raising the legs, not crossing your legs however comfortable it may feel and carrying out regular exercise.
- Medication may be necessary, and they will be prescribed for various reasons. Diuretics as they should remove liquid and help with swelling, anticoagulants as they will thin the blood and make it easier for it to flow round the body.
- Vein removal surgery – if all else fails, surgery will be necessary. This will be fully discussed with you and the options will be the surgical correction of damaged valves or veins, stripping out the damaged vein, endoscopic surgery where the vein is tied off and can no longer accept blood, laser surgery. This is a fairly new procedure and uses to light to close up the vein that is affected. It can be carried out at a veins centre to ensure that you are getting the best treatment and results. Other options are Radiofrequency ablation and Venaseal.
- Ambulatory phlebectomy – as an outpatient, you will have the leg numbed and small varicose veins will be taken out. This will only work when the veins are small, and of they are too big another procedure will have to be tried.
- Vein Sclerotherapy – the vein is prevented from accepting blood because of a chemical being shot into it. This will be one of the last treatments to be tried and will only happen in advanced cases. As with other treatment, the vein will no longer be able to accept blood and other veins must take up the slack.
- Catheter treatment – if the vein is large, then a heated catheter will be used. It will seal the vein and put it out of action. Once this has been done, it will no longer cause reflux, and the blood will find other veins to work their way back up towards the heart.
Varicose Veins Prevention
There are many things that can be done to limit the problem. If you have a family history of them it may be harder, but you can have a lifestyle that limits what may have otherwise been a problematic condition. Smoking is going to be high on the list of things not to do, as is being overweight. If you can sit and stand for regular periods, this will also limit the damage. Other than that, there is exercise as this will help with both blood flow and body weight.
Varicose vein pain can range from quite mild to extremely painful. At its best it will be a little bit itchy and annoying, but if there are complications it can become a big problem and bring a lot of pain with it. The worse pain will be felt if ulcers are formed. This will happen if fluid stays in the tissues, and this happens when there is a lot of blood gathering in the affected vein. There will be a warning about this as there tends to be a discoloration of the skin before the ulcer appears.
If there is a blood clot this is not only potentially dangerous but can be painful. The leg will swell, and this should be taken as a sign that all is not right. The swollen leg will feel as if the skin is being stretched and even walking short distances can be uncomfortable.
The cost of vein surgery is going to depend upon the treatment that takes place, alongside the number of veins that must be cured. You should expect to pay if you are not covered on your insurance. It is going to be a case that some people will be covered, and others won’t. It tends to be the reason for wanting the surgery that will be the deciding factor. If it is for cosmetic reasons it will be hard to get help, but the more debilitating the veins are the more likely that there will be help with the costs.
When you are looking for treatment you may want to visit your own doctor for advise to help you look for one who specializes in dealing with varicose veins. Having someone who is experienced in the procedures that you are likely to undergo is all right. While none are particularly life-threatening you don’t want anything to go wrong or have the varicose veins longer than you need them. It will be partly confidence in the doctor that makes you choose a particular vein treatment centre, but also the conditions surrounding the appointments.
You want to be sure that you can make appointments that are suitable for you and also that it is easy to get too and from the clinic, even if the parking is fine, it may not be in an area you want to visit or leave a car. You also want to know that a clinic is a place that you will be happy to be treated in. Is it clean and are the staffs friendly and helpful? There is no harm in reading up on the clinic as if you choose somewhere that is not fit for purpose, you may not get the results you expected and may not get the treatment paid for by the insurance company. It won’t be every veins treatment clinic that will be as good as they claim they are. As there are plenty of top quality ones, you will be able to get just what you wanted.