What causes varicose veins?
The first step to understanding how to prevent varicose veins is understanding what they are. One out of five adults has varicose veins. They're twice as common among women as men. These twisty, rope-looking bulges on the legs under the skin, which are often blue, can cause a throbbing, swelling or itching sensation.
They may be relieved short term by putting your legs up, but sitting or standing for long periods of time will often make them worse.
Varicose veins are caused when something is preventing the normal flow of blood through the veins. You may recall from biology class that veins are responsible for returning blood to your heart to be filled back up with oxygen and nutrients that your cells need to survive. These veins have flaps that open and close at various spots along this journey back up to the heart.
They help the veins beat gravity as they attempt to move blood upward, but if those flaps fail, blood keeps falling to the lower sections. It pools and bulges. With time, this blood puts pressure on the vein walls, which become thinner and thinner.
Eventually, they may burst, leading to more pain.
Are you at risk for varicose veins?
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (DHS) lists several important risk factors on its site. Before you can prevent something, you need to understand what your risk factors are. Do any of these apply to you?
- You have a family history of varicose veins.
- You are overweight. This puts extra pressure on the veins.
- You are or have been pregnant. This also puts extra pressure on the veins.
- You are older. Those valves we were discussing get tired with age.
- You are on hormone replacement therapy or birth control. Extra estrogen weakens the valves.
- You have blood clots or other damage to your vessels.
- You stand or sit for long periods of time, as many of us do for our jobs.
We're just going to take a wild guess here that one or more of these is true for you. Statistically speaking, it would be improbable that you escaped every risk factor.
This is one of the reasons varicose veins are so common, especially among women. While lifestyle does have an impact, getting varicose veins is more or less a fact of life because almost everyone has these risk factors.
How to prevent varicose veins
According to the DHS website referenced above, you may not be able to prevent varicose veins. Exercising, losing excess weight, and eating a healthy diet may slow their onset and progression. These lifestyle habits may also improve the associated symptoms like throbbing or pain.
Varicose veins cannot be fully prevented, so if you get varicose veins, it's not time to beat yourself up; it's time to look into solutions.
How to fix varicose veins
Varicose veins may not be preventable, but Dr. Banda recommends many very viable solutions for managing the symptoms and slowing the progression. These include:
- Weight loss
- Compression stockings
- Wearing loose-fitting clothing
- Reducing the amount of time you spend in prolonged standing or sitting positions
When these solutions aren't enough or you want more, there are minimally invasive procedures to consider. These include:
- Endovenous ablation. A laser destroys the varicose vein.
- Ultrasound-guided foam sclerotherapy. Dr. Banda first injects a chemical foam into the vein. The vein then seals and collapses.
- Ultrasound-guided foam sclerotherapy. This is a similar option in which Dr. Banda injects a liquid into the affected vein. This procedure takes multiple sessions, making the foam option preferred for most patients.
- Ambulatory phlebectomy. In this outpatient procedure, Dr. Banda removes the vein after making small incisions in the impacted leg.
Are you noticing varicose veins even though you've tried everything to prevent them? Realize that it may be nothing you're doing. There are solutions. Book online today.