Varicose veins are swollen, enlarged or twisting veins that typically appear blue or dark purple. These gnarled veins often develop on the legs and feet as a result of venous reflux or venous insufficiency, where the valves in the veins are not functioning properly. Not only can this affect your appearance, but it can also cause issues with blood flow and circulation. While there are ways to prevent and manage the symptoms of varicose veins, these may not always be effective, particularly if you are suffering from a more severe condition. If home remedies are proving ineffective, leading phlebologist Dr. Michael Leary can help you determine the most suitable treatment for varicose veins at California Vein Specialists in Newport Beach.
How Do Varicose Veins Develop?
Varicose veins occur as a result of weak or damaged valves. Within the circulatory system, the arteries carry blood from your heart throughout your body, while the veins return blood from the body to your heart so that the blood can be recirculated. This process ensures the proper functioning of the various organs and systems in the body. However, if the valves in your veins are damaged or weakened, blood can flow backward or pool in the vein, causing them to twist, swell and protrude from the body. Beyond their unsightly appearance, varicose veins can affect regular blood flow and circulation and can eventually lead to serious health issues if left untreated.
Factors that increase the risk of developing varicose veins include:
- Age – Over time, the valves in your veins that help regulate blood flow can become worn, causing them to weaken. Age can eventually affect blood circulation and cause the blood to flow backward or collect instead of carrying blood back to the heart.
- Genetics – If your parents or other family members have developed varicose veins, you are at a higher risk.
- Gender – Women are more likely to develop varicose veins due to hormonal changes. During pregnancy, pre-menstruation and menopause, the female hormones can relax and weaken vein walls, effecting regular circulation.
- Pregnancy – As the volume of blood increases to support the growing fetus, changes in blood flow can put pressure on the veins. This extra pressure, combined with hormonal changes, can stretch veins and prevent them from functioning correctly.
- Obesity – Additional weight also puts more pressure on the veins in your legs, making it more difficult for the blood to return to the heart.
- Job – Work that involves extended periods of sitting or standing can diminish blood flow. If you are in the same position for prolonged time frames, pressure on the veins and blood pooling can become significantly worse.
- Smoking – Smoking constricts and weakens your veins, resulting in decreased circulation.
What are the Symptoms of Varicose Veins?
For some patients, the only indication of developing the condition is the appearance of swollen, twisted veins protruding from the skin. However, other common symptoms of varicose veins include:
- Aching, burning or heaviness in the legs, especially after prolonged periods of sitting or standing
- Leg cramping
- Swelling in the feet or ankles due to build-up of fluid
- Darkening of the skin in the lower legs and ankles
- Skin issues, such as itching, dryness or scaling
- Ulcers or open wounds on the legs that are slow to heal
Will Exercise or Weight Loss Get Rid of Varicose Veins?
Depending on your risk factors, varicose veins can be prevented by living an active, healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise can lower your blood pressure and encourage better blood circulation, reducing your risk of developing varicose veins in the first place. Patients already living with varicose veins may find that regular exercise helps to ease some of their symptoms and prevent the condition from worsening. For patients who are overweight, exercise and weight loss can help take the pressure off your veins and encourage healthy blood circulation. Elevating your legs and avoiding extended periods of sitting or standing can also ease pain associated with varicose veins and prevent the condition from worsening. Wearing compression stockings can also be beneficial – as the stockings steadily squeeze your legs, they help the veins and leg muscles to move blood more efficiently.
While exercise, weight loss and other at-home remedies can make a big difference, they often aren’t always enough to prevent or treat varicose veins on their own. Additionally, not all forms of exercise are safe or beneficial for those with varicose veins – lifting heavy weights for instance, can increase the amount of pressure on your veins and worsen your condition.
Once varicose veins do appear, medical treatment is generally the most reliable and effective way to resolve the issue. In fact, when left untreated, the condition can become significantly worse and lead to further health complications. When combined with changes to your lifestyle, the right varicose vein treatment can provide transformative benefits to both your appearance and health, helping to restore healthy blood circulation.
Why is it Important to Treat Varicose Veins?
Since varicose veins can create an unsightly appearance, many patients see the condition as more of a cosmetic issue, impacting self-esteem and making you feel self-conscious about your body. However, without a full vein examination, it is impossible to know whether the problem is an indication of a more serious condition. While protruding veins may begin as a mere annoyance, they can also cause pain, inflammation, discoloration and fatigue in the legs. Beyond the associated discomfort, varicose veins can significantly affect blood flow and damage your overall health.
If left untreated, the once-cosmetic nuisance can adversely affect both your comfort and your body’s ability to function correctly. For these reasons, undergoing a vein exam is crucial, as this will allow your specialist to determine the most suitable method for treating varicose veins and addressing your health issues. Seeking early medical attention and being proactive about your venous health will help prevent more severe or permanent complications from developing.
Schedule A Vein Exam
Though varicose veins can affect your appearance and diminish your confidence, they can also wreak havoc on your health and wellbeing. Consulting a qualified vein specialist like Dr. Leary is crucial, as this is the best and most reliable way to determine the most suitable approach to treatment. Whether you are in pain or discomfort or are yet to experience these symptoms, seeking medical attention will prevent the condition from deteriorating and help to restore natural-looking skin.
Dr. Leary is one of the leading phlebologists in the Orange County and Los Angeles area. At California Vein Specialists, we are dedicated to providing patients with consistent, high-quality care and personalized, satisfying results. Drawing on the latest techniques and most advanced technology, Dr. Leary offers a range of non-surgical, minimally invasive treatments to help patients work through all types of vein-related concerns. In fact, he has helped countless patients, doctors, leg models, athletes and celebrities in Southern California achieve healthier and smoother skin. If you would like to experience the benefits of varicose vein treatment, schedule a vein exam today by calling us at (949) 515-9377.