Varicose veins are incredibly common and nothing to be embarrassed about; you may even know a friend or family member who has experienced them. But what are varicose veins, exactly? What causes them, and how are they treated? Our team of vein specialists in Orlando at Central Florida Vein & Vascular Center wants to highlight the most important things to know about varicose veins. And if you have more questions about them, we’re available to help.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
We know healthy circulation is important. But did you know that not all veins work equally as hard to circulate blood back to the heart? Gravity puts excess pressure on the vein valves in your leg as they try to push blood upward through your body. If these vein valves become tired or damaged, then blood will start to pool in the vein. This is what creates that dark, bulging, visible vein. People experiencing weight gain, fluid shift, hormonal changes, and pregnancy are most likely to suffer from varicose veins.
Spider Veins and Varicose Veins Are Not The Same
These two terms are often used as if they’re interchangeable, which has caused some confusion about what they are. If you look closely, you can tell the difference. Spider veins are accurately named. They’re red or purple in color, and they branch out across the skin like little spiderwebs. They lie flat and do not appear to bulge. Meanwhile, varicose veins are often dark blue and appear as bulging and rope-like. As these are two different conditions, there are different treatments for getting rid of them.
Crossing Your Legs Won’t Cause Varicose Veins
Have you ever had someone tell you to not cross your legs because they’ll hurt your veins? It’s an incredibly common misconception. So if you’re most comfortable sitting with your legs crossed, there’s no reason to worry. What you should be paying attention to, however, is how long you’re sitting. Sitting or standing for extended periods of time can put excess pressure on your veins and increase your risk of varicose veins. Be mindful of how long you’re staying in one place, and get up and move around occasionally. Your veins will thank you!
Varicose Veins Are More Than a Cosmetic Problem
A common misconception about varicose veins is that they’re bad simply because you can see them. But there’s more to varicose veins than what meets the eye; symptoms can also have a considerable impact on your quality of life. Legs may feel heavy, itchy, restless, or even painful. It’s worth taking varicose veins seriously. Current vein treatment is quick, minimally invasive, and has very little downtime. Seek treatment early and you won’t have to worry about your veins creating more serious problems later. These problems can include:
- Skin Ulcers: When your legs swell, your skin is unable to heal itself properly. This is because swelling blocks nutrients and oxygen to the injured area. As a result, ulcers can form in the location of an injury, even if it’s minor.
- Infections: Similar to how swelling prevents your body from healing an injury, it also makes it harder for your skin to ward off infections. Swelling opens up pathways for bacteria that our skin is normally skilled at blocking.
- Blood Clots: Blood pooling in the vein increases your risk of developing a blood clot. These are troublesome enough, but sometimes the clot will form in a deeper vein. This is a huge concern that must be treated as quickly as possible, as the clot can travel to the lungs and become life-threatening.
Hormones Impact Your Overall Vein Health
Anyone can get varicose veins, regardless of age, gender, or lifestyle. Still, we see women at an increased risk of developing them. Why is this? It’s simple — blame hormones. Birth control, hormone replacement, and pregnancy can all increase a woman’s risk of getting varicose veins. Pregnancy is especially tied to varicose veins as it causes increased blood volume and additional weight, which puts extra pressure on already-strained leg veins.
You Can’t Treat Varicose Veins at Home
It may be tempting to look up DIY vein care, and some tips and tricks can actually offer much-needed symptomatic relief. Unfortunately, there aren’t any at-home treatments that can get rid of the varicose vein entirely. You’ll need to see a specialist. Not all vein problems are visible to the eye, so a professional can take a deeper look with an ultrasound and pinpoint the exact problem. They can then determine the best course of treatment to take care of that troublesome vein so you can live life pain-free.
Treatment is Easier Than You May Think
The days of vein stripping are long gone, so don’t worry about facing a painful procedure. Minimally invasive treatments have since taken their place. The type of therapy that’s best for you will vary based on your vein health. A specialist may recommend Sclerotherapy, which involves injecting a solution into the vein to cause it to scar and fade. Or they may recommend Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT), which applies heat therapy to the vein to seal it. Venaseal is another excellent option, which uses special medical glue to seal the vein. All of these treatments are quick with minimal downtime, getting you back on your feet right away.
Scheduling Treatment is Easy, Too
Central Florida Vein & Vascular Center is home to vein specialists in Orlando who have dedicated their lives to vein care. We carefully assess our patient’s vein health so that we can curate a treatment plan that will deliver the best results. If you have any questions or concerns about your veins, there’s no reason to wait — we’re just a phone call away. We also have three convenient locations at The Villages, Hunters Creek, and Ocoee. Schedule a consultation to see us by calling 407-545-3385 or 352-658-5547 today.