Varicose Veins

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Varicose veins are bluish, twisted and enlarged veins that run just beneath the surface of the skin. Any vein can become varicose but the veins most commonly affected are those in the legs and feet.

They occur most in those who spend a lot of time standing and walking upright, which increases the pressure in the veins of the lower body.

For a lot of people varicose veins are a cosmetic concern. Sometimes varicose veins can cause pain and discomfort and lead to more serious problems.  Varicose veins may also signal a higher risk of other circulatory problems. Treatment may involve self-care measures or procedures by your doctor to close or remove veins.

Symptoms

Varicose veins may not cause any pain. Signs you may have with varicose veins include:
* Veins that are dark purple or blue in colour
* Veins that appear twisted and bulging; often like cords on your legs

When painful symptoms include:
*An achy or heavy feeling in your legs
*Burning, throbbing, muscle cramping and swelling in your lower legs
*Pain that gets worse after sitting or standing for a long time
* Itching around one or more of your veins
*Bleeding from varicose veins
*A painful, reddish colour in the vein
* Changes, hardening of the vein, inflammation of the skin or skin ulcers near your ankle, which can mean you have a serious form of vascular disease that requires medical attention.

Causes

* Age: As you get older, your veins can lose elasticity, causing them to stretch. The valves in your veins may become weak, allowing blood that should be moving toward your heart to flow backward. Blood pools in your veins, and they enlarge and become varicose. The veins look blue because have deoxygenated blood, which is in the process of being re-circulated through the lungs.

* Pregnancy: Sometimes varicose veins develop in pregnant women. Pregnancy increases the flow of blood to the womb decreasing the flow of blood to the legs. They may occur for the first time or worsen during late pregnancy. Changes in hormones at this time might be a cause.  If varicose veins develop during pregnancy, they improve without medical treatment after delivery.

* High-risk factors like: family history, obesity and activities which require you to stand or sit for long periods, taking hormone therapy or birth control pills.

Treatment

Exercise, keeping your legs elevated may prevent varicose veins from getting worse. See a doctor if you don’t like the way it looks, and feel that the condition is getting worse.

Surgery

Typically, larger varicose veins are treated with ligation and stripping, endovenous laser treatment, or radiofrequency treatment. For some people, a combination of treatments may work best. Smaller varicose veins and spider veins are usually treated with laser therapy on your skin or sclerotherapy.

Hospital stay is expected to be from 1 to 2 days.