Varicose veins are unsightly enlarged, weakened or collapsed veins in the legs that have ceased to function normally…
If you have them, then you’re suffering along with about 50 per cent of the population.
Here’s some suggestions on its cure and prevention:
Typically, we associate varicose veins with bulging, purple veins of the legs but occasionally the problem is within the leg and goes unnoticed until complications arise – hence, the importance of treating very pronounced spider veins, which may be an indicator of an underlying problem if present with typical symptoms of venous incompetence. It’s an ascending disease.
If you imagine the network of veins as a tree’s trunk and lie within the ‘fascia’ muscle. These are the veins that you can’t see. The tributary veins are the ones you can see – the multiple branches – and the spider veins are the leaves.
Patients may present with spider veins thinking it is a cosmetic problem. They’re unaware that the problem may be with the larger vein that’s out of view.
If there is pain in the leg, swelling and heaviness, or the veins are localised around the ankles, then we would recommend an ultrasound to rule out any more serious problems.
A simple sclerotherapy treatment can clear about 70 per cent of spider veins. Generally, around one to three treatments is required for best results.
Why are varicose veins so common?
It is a reflection of Western sedentary lifestyle. We drive rather than walk. Entertainment is a DVD or video game over physical activity. Our jobs find us sitting or standing in one spot all day.
Immobility, lack of exercise, being overweight, poor muscle tone and wearing high hells are contributory factors. Poor nutrition, and lack of fibre and hydration will exacerbate the problem.
Who gets varicose veins?
While age is a determining factor with varicose veins, in cases where there is a strong genetic predisposition, people even younger than 30 may get them.
The major cause is genetic predisposition, but the combination of environmental factors with this intensifies the conditions. Typically, people who have jobs where they stand up all day are at high risk.
Hormones contribute to the condition, making females more prone to the condition. Pregnancy highlights the effects of hormones on veins. The higher percentage of estrogen as well as the abdominal pressure will contribute to venous congestion. Breast-feeding, oral contraceptives, menopause and hormone replacements are culprits.
What are the symptoms?
Look out for aches, pains, cramps and heaviness in the legs that become worse at the end of the day, and are relieved after a good night’s sleep with the legs elevated.
If you leave them, will they go away?
The answer is no. Leaving veins untreated for a great length of time can cause health problems. Firstly, you might experience patches of eczema on the legs and pigmentation above the ankles.
Secondly, the skin hardens and feels wooden to touch. The diameter of the leg then begins to shrink. This condition is called lipo dermato sclerosis (LDS) and it is a hardening of the skin. The worst-case scenario is that the skin might break down and become ulcerous, or the skin becomes so tight and fibrous that the patient can’t move their foot. This however, is generally only if veins are left untreated for a very long period of time and symptoms are ignored.
How can I prevent them?
If there is a strong family history, you’re likely to get some form of varicose veins. However, there are simple measures to keep them at bay. The following can help the condition:
- Wearing compression stockings when possible.
- Exercising daily and incorporating incidental exercise. (for instance, take the stairs over the elevator).
- Avoiding saunas, hot baths and steam rooms.
- Avoiding standing for long periods of time.
- Elevating the legs.
- Following a healthy, high-fibre diet and drinking plenty of water each day.
- Maintaining a healthy weight.
- Having spider veins and broken capillaries checked by a medical specialist before the problem becomes worse.
Do topical creams work?
There are numerous topical preparations on the cosmetic shelves aimed at minimising the appearance of spider veins and broken capillaries. Do they work?
The majority of creams have vitamin K as a major component and are able to form a transient clot in the vein. This improves the appearance temporarily. However, the clot eventually dissolves and the vein comes back.
TREATMENTS AVAILABLE FOR VARICOSE VEINS:
Stripping and evulsion
What is it? Segments of large refluxing superficial veins (stripping) and visible varicose
veins (avulsions) are cut away under general anaesthetic. Down time? Overnight hospital stay; bruising; compressions garments worn in the weeks following.
effectiveness? There is a standard, effective procedure.
Endovenous laser ablation (EVLA)
What is it? The introduction of a laser fibre into the target vein. As the laser is
activated and pulled out, it destroys the vein.
effectiveness? It takes as little as 40 minutes and we are seeing great results.
down time? Some aching; minor bruising; compression garments worn in the
Ultrasound guided sclerotherapy
What is it? A foam sclerosing agent is injected into the vein, destroying it.
effectiveness? Results have been excellent.
down time? There is no down time. Compression garments worn in the weeks following.
what is it? Tiny hooks are used to remove veins surgically under local anesthetic.
effectiveness? Showing good results. down time? None. Compression garments worn in the weeks following.
what is it? Injections of sclerosing solution treat small superficial veins and spider
veins. effectiveness? A course of treatments reduces the veins by up to 75 per cent.
down time? Compression garments must be worn; bruising.
That’s all for now and don’ forget to watch the video demo to the non-surgical removal of varicose veins..
As always, live life to its fullest
Rowell Bulan M.D.
Demonstration of non-surgical method of removing varicose veins