What is it?
Varicose veins are twisted, enlarged veins near the surface of the skin. They most commonly develop in the legs and ankles.
Normally, the one-way valves in these veins keep the blood flowing efficiently against gravity up towards the heart. Varicose veins develop when you have faulty valves in your veins and weakened vein walls. When these valves do not function properly, blood pools and pressure builds up, hence the veins are weakened, enlarged and twisted.
Varicose veins are a common condition. Some people may be more likely to develop varicose veins because of inherited characteristics (genetics), aging process and hormone changes. Varicose veins may also result from conditions that increase pressure on the leg veins, such as being overweight or pregnant or having an occupation that requires standing for long periods of time.
Sometimes, varicose veins may cause pain, skin ulcers, blood clots or other problems.
How is it Diagnosed?
Your doctor will examine your legs and feet. Varicose veins are easy to see, especially when you are standing. If a problem with the deep veins or complications are suspected based on your symptoms and examination, the simplest test uses only a blood pressure cuff. If further examination is required, an ultrasound study, like the Doppler ultrasound may be performed.
What are the symptoms?
Patients often have no discomfort but may be concerned about the appearence of the veins. Varicose veins are visible throught the skin and apper dark blue, swollen and twisted. Some may experience distending discomfort, tiredness, swelling and pain in the leg. Symptoms may worsen after standing or sitting for long periods of time. Varicose veins can also cause darkening of skin, dry, thickened skin, open sores (ulcerations), inflammation (thrombophlebitis) or bleeding.
What is the treatment?
The goals are to reduce symptoms and prevent long term complications.
Treatment will be advised by your doctor based on your condition.
- Non-surgical: Exercise, wearing compression stickings and elevating legs.
- Surgery: Ligation and Stripping (Open Surgery)
- Endovenous Laser Treatment or Radiofrequency Ablation
- Laparoscopic Perforator Surgery (Keyhole Surgery)