Despite the fact that varicose veins are quite common, many people don’t understand the root cause, or how veins are meant to function at their healthiest. We are dedicated to educating our clients! We’re happy to answer any questions you have, and we want to ensure that you know as much about your vein health as possible. Learn about the different types of veins, the important roles they play in your body, common misconceptions, risk factors, and how varicose veins can form.
What Are Healthy Veins?
We believe it’s important for patients to understand how unhealthy veins work; however, it’s just as important to understand how veins work when they’re healthy. Your body relies on a complex network of vessels to keep blood flowing throughout the body! While arteries deliver oxygenated blood to muscles and organs, veins are responsible for pumping the deoxygenated blood back to the heart. When leg muscles contract, vein valves open, and blood is squeezed up the vein. When leg muscles relax, the valves close, and this prevents blood from leaking backward in the vein. Strong, healthy valves are equipped to safely hold blood in place until the next time muscles contract.
What Are Unhealthy Veins?
Let’s compare healthy veins to unhealthy ones. Whereas healthy veins have strong walls and valves, damaged ones do not; they’re weak and stretched out, causing them to sag. This means that they’re no longer able to fully close, allowing blood to leak back through the valve when muscles relax — and forcing it to reroute to the nearest healthy valve. But the extra pressure becomes too much for that once-healthy valve, and it too is weakened. The valves below it begin to weaken as well. Blood pools in the vein instead of moving back to the heart as it should, and as a result, varicose veins can occur.
What are the Types of Veins?
As previously mentioned, your body relies on a large network of veins to carry blood from the body back to the heart. There are several types of veins that work together to make this happen! Superficial veins are close to the surface of the body and drain into deep veins. The deep veins then carry blood back to the heart through the inferior vena cava. This is the body’s largest vein! Lastly, there are perforating veins, which help transport blood from the superficial veins to the deep veins.
So What Are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are swollen, twisted veins that appear dark and bulging under the skin. When valves become weak or damaged, blood leaks back through the valve and pools in your veins, causing them to swell. This can lead to varicose veins.
Although many are familiar with varicose veins, people are often misled by false information about them.
- False fact #1: “Varicose veins are caused by crossing your legs.”
This is not true. However, crossing your legs does increase venous blood pressure, putting a little extra stress on your veins to make the blood circulate. The key is to make sure you don’t sit with crossed legs too often! The real culprit is when you sit or stand for long periods of time.
- False fact #2: “Only women get varicose veins.”
This is not true. Men can also experience weakened or damaged vein valves; it’s important for both genders to invest in their vein health.
- False fact #3: “If you have varicose veins, you’ll know; you can see them.”
For some people, that’s true! But not everyone will be able to know this based on vein visibility. If they form deep enough in your body, they won’t be as easily seen. If you don’t see varicose veins but are experiencing the symptoms, such as itchiness, heaviness, or aching, then it’s best to visit a qualified professional.
There are a wide variety of factors that lead to varicose veins!
- Heredity: This is actually one of the most important factors. If your parents and grandparents had varicose veins, you’re at an increased risk to develop them.
- Gender: Women have a higher incidence of varicose vein disease, due in part to hormones and their effect on vein walls (not to mention the effects that pregnancy has on vein health); varicose veins affect an estimated 55% of women and 45% of men.
- Age: As we age, the tissues of our vein walls lose elasticity, causing the valve system to fail.
- Occupation: If you work a job where you sit or stand for prolonged periods of time, this can increase the volume of pressure of blood in your legs.
- Weight: It’s important to maintain a healthy weight. If you’re overweight, increased gravity pressure can worsen vein problems. Pressure is a function of gravity effect, which is why these issues are worse while standing. The more you weigh, the greater the pressure on your legs.
- Physical trauma: For example, if you’ve suffered an injury to your lower limbs, underlying blood vessels might be damaged.
Are Varicose Veins Just Cosmetic?
If left untreated, this form of venous insufficiency risks becoming a worse health concern. Sometimes weak veins can leak and create an ulcer, and in the worst-case scenario, blood clots can form in areas of the vein where blood moves too slowly or not at all. This clot can travel to the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism.
There are a variety of treatment options available that are minimally invasive and oftentimes covered under medical insurance! Patients report feeling little or no pain during our procedures, and most can resume normal activities within 1-2 days.
At Central Florida Vein & Vascular, we are proud to work with the finest vein specialists in Kissimmee. We offer a full spectrum of the latest services in vein care, and we take the time to develop a treatment plan that is customized around your individual needs. Providing the highest quality of patient care is our top priority! Contact us today at 407-545-3385 or 352-658-5547 to find out how our treatments can change your life.