Important facts about varicose veins

Varicose veins
Varicose veins can severely impact people's health. Photo: Solarisys, Bigstock

Varicose veins are a vascular condition that is identified by large, ropy and bulging blood vessels being visible under the skin. The condition usually occurs in the lower leg because the valve failure causes an interruption in the proper flow of blood, allowing gravity to let it pool in the lower body.

For most sufferers this means having unsightly blood vessels appearing on their exterior and this can cause serious self-esteem issues, often forcing people to cover up when they otherwise wouldn’t. There are several different factors that explain why someone might develop varicose veins but statistically it is usually older people, especially women who experience it.

This is because the valve failure that causes varicose veins is genetically destined to happen to a large proportion of the population at some point in their lives. This predisposition can be aggravated by lifestyle factors like as pregnancy, remaining stationary for long periods or being overweight.

Why do these valves cause varicose veins?

The valves in the blood vessels we are discussing operate as a sort of flood gate that regulates the flow of blood cells through the vessel and towards the heart. When the valves contract they help move the blood up towards the heart, when they fail to function they fail to push the blood, causing a build-up.

This build-up of blood causes the vessel to become distended and enlarged, forming what we call varicose veins. As mentioned earlier, this failure can occur in any blood vessels but is most damaging in the legs where without them gravity forces the blood back towards the feet.

The valves cannot be repaired, and even if they could there is no real point to trying to rescue these blood vessels. Modern treatments at a vascular health clinic for varicose veins, such as ultrasound guided sclerotherapy, effectively destroy the problem blood vessel.

The reason all treatments remove or destroy the blood vessels is that they are considered “superficial” vessels that the body does not require. When these blood vessels are removed the flow is simply diverted to another stream.

Why is it important to treat varicose veins?

For many sufferers, varicose veins are simply a cosmetic concern that prevents them from feeling confident in showing their bare skin. This can mean not partaking in life activities like swimming, exercise and wearing skirts, dresses or shorts in summertime.

Not only is this no way to live, but it can be quite unhealthy and uncomfortable to cover up in warm weather or to opt out of physical activities. This is reason enough for a majority of sufferers to get treatment from a professional varicose veins clinic.

For other sufferers, the condition can actually cause them throbbing or acute pain, soreness and a feeling of weight or heaviness in their legs. These forms of the condition are usually far more advanced, widespread throughout the leg and require slightly more invasive surgery to treat.

There are also several short term home remedies for varicose veins, and compression stockings are an effective measure to reduce the symptoms of the condition. Despite this the best treatment is always found at a professional clinic.

In the most extreme cases the condition can lead to more serious and even fatal issues.  If the blood that pools in a blood vessel is left untreated for too long it can form a clot. If this clot becomes loosened it can travel up to the lungs and lodge itself, preventing proper breathing and this can lead to death.

This condition is known as deep vein thrombosis and should be taken very seriously by anyone dealing with severe vascular health issues.