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Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are veins under the skin of the legs. The blood moves towards the heart by one-way valves in the veins. When your vein walls are weak and your valves are not working right, blood backs up, making the veins widen, bulge, and twist.

Smaller veins called “Spider Veins” can also occur in this condition and are tiny blue collection of veins in the legs under the skin.

Varicose and spider veins are very common as you age and are often a cosmetic concern. For some people, varicose veins can cause aching pain and discomfort. Sometimes, varicose veins lead to more serious problems.

Most often, varicose veins develop on calves, ankles and feet.

Risk factors

  • Gender
    Women are more likely than men to develop Varicose veins
  • Age
    With age, the valves in veins can become weaker
  • Lifestyle
    Restrictive clothing, high heels, obesity, and inactivity increase the risk.
  • Hormones
    Hormonal changes during pregnancy, puberty, and menopause can increase the risk of developing varicose veins.
  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking
  • Standing for long periods

When to see a doctor

Varicose veins are usually not dangerous, however, you should visit your doctor and get an opinion if you are concerned about how they look or if they cause discomfort.

You should see a doctor if the skin or veins are:
  • Bleeding.
  • Discoloured.
  • Painful, red or warm to touch.
  • Swollen.

Benefits of Interventional Radiology procedures for Varicose Veins

  • Minimally invasive procedures such as Sclerotherapy and Endovascular Ablation seal off veins without removing them. This means a faster recovery time and a lower risk of complications.
  • Cosmetic results (usually equal to or better than surgery).

1. What are the signs and symptoms of Varicose Veins?
Very often, there are no symptoms at all other than the visible veins.
Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Bulging veins
  • Muscles in your legs may feel tired, heavy or sluggish, especially after physical activity.
  • Itching
  • Mild swelling of the legs.
  • Pain or soreness behind your knees.
  • Muscle cramps.
  • Legs may be painful, achy or sore, especially behind your knees. You might have muscle cramps.
  • Thickening and darkening of skin around the ankles and lower legs

2. How are Varicose Veins diagnosed?

Your doctor will diagnose with a physical examination. To diagnose varicose veins, a healthcare provider might recommend a test called a venous Colour Doppler ultrasound of the leg. A Doppler ultrasound is a non-invasive test that uses sound waves to look at blood flow through the valves in the veins. A leg ultrasound can help detect a blood clot.

In a few cases, a CT or an MRI may be necessary. Very rarely, a Venogram is required with injection of contrast into the leg veins. This is done on a special X-ray machine and requires a needle puncture.

3. What are the treatments for Varicose Veins?
The treatment of varicose veins depends upon the problems the patient has and the reason for the varicose veins.
Self-care, such as exercise, can help ease the pain of varicose veins and might prevent them from worsening.
In mild cases without skin changes, swelling or bleeding, where there are no large leaky veins, the use of Compression Stockings may be enough. In Vein surgery, the surgeon ties off your affected vein (ligation) to stop blood from pooling. The surgeon may remove (strip) the vein to prevent varicose veins from reappearing.

4. What are the nonsurgical solutions for Varicose Veins?
Sclerotherapy: Sclerotherapy involves injecting a chemical solution directly into the varicose or spider vein. The solution causes the vein walls to swell, stick together and seal shut, stopping blood flow. As a result, the vein fades within a few weeks. 

Endovascular Ablation: Endovenous ablation (EVLT) Specialists use laser technology to internally close off abnormal veins supplying blood flow to secondary varicose or spider veins. This procedure requires a small incision and usually has a shorter recovery time than surgery. These procedures are done under local anaesthesia and may involve no admission or bed rest. Most patients can go home and carry on with everyday activities.
In rare cases, where patients have a blockage to a big deep vein responsible for the varicose veins, more extensive treatment may be needed, including opening the blocked vein using a Stent.

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Varicose veins are veins under the skin of the legs. The blood moves towards the heart by one-way valves in the veins. When your vein walls are weak and your valves are not working right, blood backs up, making the veins widen, bulge, and twist. 

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