Varicose veins are incredibly common. Many of us are aware of these dark, bulging, and often painful veins. However, we may not be as aware of their causes or links to more serious conditions, such as deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism. Some individuals may see varicose veins as harmless or a simple cosmetic issue, and then put off seeking treatment or never think to see a specialist at all. The vein specialists in Kissimmee at Central Florida Vein & Vascular Center know that varicose veins aren’t something to ignore. Putting off treatment until later can raise the risk of your veins becoming a bigger problem than you ever wanted to deal with. Here’s the reason why it’s better to seek treatment sooner rather than later.
What Are Varicose Veins?
We often hear that proper circulation is important. Your vein valves are constantly working to ensure your blood is being circulated throughout your body, and some work harder than others — specifically, the valves in your legs. They fight to push blood upward against gravity, and can weaken or become damaged over time. When valves in the leg fail, blood can pool in the leg and form a varicose vein.
This happens to more people than you may imagine. Nearly 23% of adults have experienced this venous problem. They’re fully aware of the primary symptom: dark, bulging, rope-like veins that are very visible under the skin. Even without visual symptoms, varicose veins can still exist through legs that feel fatigued, restless, itchy or painful. These are the primary warning signs that it’s time to visit a specialist, like our team at Central Florida Vein & Vascular Center. These symptoms won’t go away if you ignore them — and the blood pooling in your vein could potentially lead to a clot.
What’s the Link Between Varicose Veins and Blood Clots?
Varicose veins are very common and are rarely associated with a severe health risk, which is why some people may choose to put off treatment until a later date. Meanwhile, other vein-related problems like deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism can be dangerous or even deadly. Deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot that forms in the vein. That blood clot can then travel to the lungs — a potentially deadly scenario often referred to as a pulmonary embolism.
It’s currently unknown if there’s a direct causal link between varicose veins and blood clots traveling to the lungs. However, studies have shown that individuals with varicose veins are at 5 times the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis compared to those with healthy veins. It’s also interesting to note that, while women are more likely to experience varicose veins, men with this vein problem are more likely to develop a blood clot.
What’s really at fault for varicose veins leading to blood clots? As specialists continue to research the causal link between veins and clots, there’s one thing that is now more commonly recognized as the key factor: inflammation. If you have varicose veins, you may have noticed leg swelling due to blood pooling in the vein. This inflammation is currently thought to be a more ideal environment for blood clots to easily develop.
What Should You Do About Varicose Veins?
As the old adage goes, “a stitch in time saves nine.” Or, in this case, early treatment can save you from a scary blood clot. Varicose veins aren’t always a simple cosmetic issue. They require careful monitoring by a specialist. A physician who specializes in varicose veins will be able to determine the current state of your vein health and create a plan to keep your veins as healthy as possible. Afterward, you’ll be able to enjoy daily activities without worrying that you’re at an increased risk for a blood clot.
What to Expect From Varicose Vein Treatment
Even when medically necessary, you may feel anxious about treatment. What are the costs? Does it hurt? Is there a long recovery time? How long will treatment take? The answer to these questions are simple: treatment is quick, easy, and may be covered by insurance.
There are a variety of varicose vein treatments, all of which have come a long way from vein stripping. There are minimally invasive treatments like endovenous laser treatment, which uses heat energy to close the vein without scarring. Some procedures use a sclerosing agent, like polidocanol, or a medical glue to treat the affected vein. Meanwhile, other patients who feel self-conscious about their veins may benefit from topical laser therapy, which uses micro-pulses of laser energy to reduce the appearance of veins. Procedures are short enough to be finished within a lunch break. These treatments aren’t painful, although there may be minimal discomfort. And the best part? If treatment is medically necessary, most insurance carriers will cover the costs.
While you’re waiting to see a specialist, there are things you can do at home to relieve some of the pressure from varicose veins. A brisk daily walk or refreshing swim can help your circulation. Lying on your back with your feet straight up can also relieve some of the pressure after a long day standing. Compression stockings can offer symptomatic relief as well. But, at the end of the day, these options will not cure your veins. To lower your risk of vein-related blood clots forming, you’ll need to seek treatment from a specialist.
If you’re currently struggling with varicose veins or have concerns about your vein health, don’t put treatment on the list of things that can wait. Preventing blood clots is easier than treating them, so why not visit a specialist soon? Our team of vein specialists in Kissimmee at Central Florida Vein & Vascular Center has dedicated themselves to giving patients the best vein care possible. You can find us in three convenient locations, in Ocoee, The Villages, and Kissimmee. No matter where you visit us, we’ll determine the current state of your vein health and create the treatment plan that’s best for you — and we’ll be communicating with you every step of the way. Schedule a consultation by calling 407-545-3385 or 352-658-5547 today.