What are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are swollen, visible veins and are most common on the legs. Varicose veins is a widespread condition. Roughly every second woman and every fourth man has varicose veins.
Veins carry oxygen-poor blood back to the heart. The blood in the legs has to flow to the heart and the heart beat alone does not provide enough pressure. Contraction of the calf and thigh muscles causes the veins to compress and return the blood to the heart (muscle pump). Venous valves, which are tiny valves in the veins, help to prevent the backflow of blood. They only allow the blood to return to the heart.
Varicose veins are caused when the connective tissue fibres in the walls of the vein are weak and overstretched. Therefore the venous valves are no longer able to close properly and the blood is able to flow backwards. The blood pools and stretches the vein walls even further.
Causes of Varicose Veins
Genetic weakness of connective tissue is only one of a number of causes of varicose veins. Varicose veins are also caused by insufficient amounts of physical activity, excess weight, sitting or standing a lot at work and taking the pill.
The differentiation between “primary” and “secondary” varicose veins is based on the cause of the condition.
Primary Varicose Veins:
The blood flow is only disrupted in the visible vein system which is close to the surface of the skin. This is the most common and less harmful type of varicose veins.
Secondary Varicose Veins:
Secondary varicose veins occur when the blood can no longer flow freely through the deep veins. Causes: blood clot, deposits on vein walls etc… In this case the blood tries to find another route and flows through the veins near the surface. Secondary veins occur if these veins can no longer withstand the additional pressure which is caused by the increased amount of blood.
Risk Factors for Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are not only a cosmetic problem. Alongside the fact that the varicose veins are visible, the affected person also gets very heavy and tired legs and swollen feet. Varicose veins can easily become inflamed and form blood clots (thrombosis): Furthermore, varicose veins can cause serious fluid accumulation.
Preventing Varicose Veins
- Do not wear tight shoes with high hells if you have to stand a lot.
- Doing heel-toe-heel rolls repeatedly helps to activate the muscle pump in the legs.
- Put your legs up as often as possible.
- Rubbing the legs everyday in the direction of the heart helps the blood to flow back.
- Wear individually fitted support stockings.
- Regular aerobics, hiking, cycling and swimming improve the condition.
- Weight loss if overweight
Treatment of Primary Varicose Veins
Sclerotherapy involves injecting a solution into the vein which causes the walls of the vein to stick together and eventually seal shut. The blood then tries to find a different way to the heart. Sclerotherapy is an ambulant procedure, without anaesthesia and it is relatively painless. Varicose veins are particularly treated with sclerotherapy if the small skin veins or the tributary veins are also widened.
- Surgical Removal of Varicose Veins
Surgical removal of varicose veins (stripping) involves the removal of affected veins. Vein stripping is performed under general anaesthetic. Small incisions at the ankle, the hollow of the knee and in the groin are made. The veins are then pulled out. It is necessary to remain hospitalised for about one week after the varicose veins have been removed. Risks: The skin veins in the ankle region are injured quite often. As a result, the affected area can become numb.
- Varicose Vein Creams
Varicose vein creams and lotions do not help get rid of varicose veins.
Say Goodbye to Varicose & Spider Veins Now!, Dr Greg Martin