Treating Varicose Veins isn't Just About Vanity - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on July 15, 2015

Treating Varicose Veins isn't Just About Vanity

For a long time, treating varicose and spider veins was viewed as a cosmetic procedure, but if left untreated varicose veins may lead to serious complications.

For a long time, treating varicose and
spider veins was viewed as a cosmetic procedure,
but if left untreated varicose veins
may lead to serious complications.

The popularity of cosmetic surgery just doesn’t stop growing. We are constantly flooded with people wanting to change their appearance for a more attractive look, whether through large invasive surgeries or minor Botox injections.

For a long time, treating varicose and spider veins was viewed in the same light – as a cosmetic procedure for an improved appearance. While treating them does improve the look of varicose and spider veins, treatment is about more than just the way they look.

Varicose veins are twisted and enlarged veins, commonly in your legs and feet. While any vein may become varicose, legs and feet are at a higher risk because standing and walking upright increases the pressure in the veins of your lower body.

They’re caused by weakened valves and veins in your legs. Typically, the one-way valves within your veins keep the blood flowing from your legs up toward your heart. But, when these valves don’t work properly, blood can collect in your legs, building up pressure. This causes veins to become weak, large and gnarled.

While some varicose veins and spider veins – a common, mild variation of varicose veins – are a cosmetic concern, some are more serious. For some people, their varicose veins can cause an aching or heavy feeling in the legs; throbbing, cramping and swelling in the lower legs; itching around one or more of the veins; or skin ulcers near the ankle, which may signal a more serious form of vascular disease that requires medical attention.

Varicose veins may even lead to more complications. Occasionally, veins deep within the legs become enlarged, causing the leg to swell considerably. Seek immediate medical attention if a leg suddenly swells – it could indicate a blood clot.

Age is one risk factor of developing varicose and spider veins. Aging causes common wear and tear on the valves in your veins that help regulate blood flow. Obesity also increases the risk since extra weight puts added pressure on the veins. The risk is also increased for those who sit or stand for long periods of time – if you’re in the same position for a long time, your blood doesn’t flow as well.

Pregnancy can cause to develop varicose and spider veins since the volume of blood in your body increases, while the flow of blood from your legs to your pelvis decreases. This circulatory change is designed to support the growing fetus, but it can lead to enlarged veins in your legs. In addition, the uterus puts greater pressure on the veins in your legs. Hormonal changes during pregnancy may also promote varicose veins.

The good news is that treating varicose veins usually doesn’t mean a hospital stay or a long, painful recovery. In fact, some self-care can treat them as well.

At home, you can ease symptoms and prevent varicose veins from worsening by:

  • Wearing compression stockings
  • Elevating your legs
  • Avoiding long periods of sitting or standing
  • Getting plenty of exercise
  • Losing excess weight

If those self-care measures don’t treat your varicose veins or if your condition is more severe, there’s an array of treatments your doctor can discuss with you. And thanks to less invasive procedures, varicose veins can often be treated on an outpatient basis.

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