What are Varicose Veins?


Around 20 to 25 million Americans have varicose veins according to the American Society for Vascular Surgery. The organization further adds that statistics show 17% of men and 33% of women suffer from this vascular disease. But what, exactly, are varicose veins? The definition of varicose veins is as follows: veins that have become enlarged and, many times, twisted. Usually the term is used to describe leg veins that have had this swelling and twisting occur but can actually happen anywhere in the body.

Varicose veins can cause pain and be a possible cause of embarrassment. You may be suffering from varicose veins if you experience any of the following:

  • Largeveins you can see beneath the skin’s surface
  • Mildswelling of the feet and ankles
  • Painful,aching, heavy feeling legs
  • Throbbingand/or cramping in the legs
  • Itchingon lower legs and ankles
  • Skindiscoloration

There are a few compounding causes for varicose veins to come about. As you age, the blood vessels can lose their ability to stretch like they did when you were younger. This can leave them stretched out, similar to a balloon that has been inflated multiple times. This can leave the valves weak and allow the blood to pool and may at times even flow backward. Sometimes, pregnancy can increase your risk of developing varicose veins.

Self-care for varicose veins

  • compressionstockings
  • elevatingthe legs
  • exercise
  • loseweight
  • changepositions from sitting to standing and back again, frequently

There are a variety of medical procedures about which you may want more information. Doctors can perform procedure to close the veins, so they shrink up. There are laser surgeries that are popular. In some instances, your doctor may suggest “stripping” the vein (surgical tying off and removal of the vein). There are options available to you.

While varicose veins are generally thought to be a cosmetic concern, they can turn into a more serious condition known as deep vein thrombosis or DVT. DVT is a condition where a clot develops inside a vein. This can happen in any part of your body, but it is more common if you suffer from varicose veins. If you believe your varicose veins have developed in to DVT, you should seek immediate medical attention, as the condition is quite serious. Clots can break free and move. If trapped in vital organs, you could die.

Signs of deep vein thrombosis

  • Sudden swelling of an arm or leg
  • pain and/or soreness when walking
  • the area feels hot the touch
  • enlarged veins
  • red or even bluish color to the skin

Varicose veins, vein injuries, smoking, being over the age of 40, pregnancy, obesity, genetic traits and sedentary habits can all increase your risk of DVT. Medical professionals treat DVT with prescription blood thinners, clot bursting procedures and even surgery.