Varicose veins are gnarled, enlarged veins that appear on the surface of the skin. They are often discolored and may appear dark purple or blue. While any vein in the body may become varicose, they typically appear on the thighs and lower legs. Varicose veins are very common. In fact, varicose veins affect about 23% of all Americans. Women are at least twice as likely to develop varicose veins as men.
Causes of Varicose Veins
Veins return blood from your body to your heart to be recirculated. As blood circulates to the lower parts of your body, veins must work against gravity to return the blood to your heart. To do so, veins rely on muscle contractions in your lower legs to act as pumps, forcing blood upward. Small valves in your veins open as blood flows upward and close to stop blood from flowing backwards. Varicose veins occur when those valves malfunction, allowing blood to pool inside the vein.
Age – As we get older our veins lose elasticity and become more prone to stretching. When stretching occurs, blood can pool within the veins, enlarging them so they become varicose.
Pregnancy – Pregnancy changes the circulatory system. It allows blood to flow more freely in the body, but it also decreases flow from the legs to the pelvis. This change can result in enlarged veins in the legs. The enlarged veins may improve on their own once the pregnancy is over.
Heredity – You may inherit abnormalities in the walls of the vein that contribute to varicose veins.
Excess Weight – Additional weight increases the amount of pressure on the lower body, which can cause varicose veins.
Prolonged Standing or Sitting – Prolonged sitting or standing creates pressure in the lower part of the body which can cause varicose veins.
Symptoms of Varicose Veins
For some people varicose veins never cause more than a cosmetic issue. For others varicose veins can produce uncomfortable symptoms including:
- Heaviness or aching feeling in the lower legs
- Burning or itching sensations on the skin surrounding the varicose vein
- Swelling or cramping in the lower legs and ankles
- A feeling of restless legs, particularly during periods of inactivity
- Venous ulcers – open sores that typically appear on the inner leg just above the ankle
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is time to talk to a doctor about treatment for your varicose veins. Fortunately, Westrol Vein Specialists offers many treatment options, allowing Dr. Westrol to customize treatment to your specific needs and symptoms. Most patients experience nearly instant relief from uncomfortable symptoms after varicose vein treatment, although it may take some time for the veins themselves to completely disappear. If you are experiencing symptoms, contact Westrol Vein Specialists right away to find out how we can help you look and feel your best.