Are you experiencing pain in your legs while bluish or dark purple veins are visibly appearing? It might be varicose veins and requires immediate medical help as it can lead to blood circulatory problems in future. Read this article to get detailed information on varicose veins, its symptoms, causes, treatment, precautions and more.
What are Varicose Veins?
Usually appearing on the legs or feet, varicose veins are enlarged, twisted or swollen veins that often look blue or dark purple in colour, due to defects in the valves within the vein that allow blood to flow in the wrong direction. Varicose veins can occur anywhere on the body, but they tend to affect the legs most often. Varicose veins typically occur in the legs as a result of standing or sitting for long periods of time or due to obesity. It is estimated that about 25% of adults suffer from varicose veins every year. The condition of varicose veins can be characterized under five grades as explained below:
– Grade 1: This is the first stage of varicose veins that involves the appearance of small, thin, damaged veins on the skin’s surface, usually on the legs and face. These don’t damage the skin and are painless.
– Grade 2: This stage is marked by the appearance of blue or purple colored veins below the skin on the inner thighs, back of the knees, or around the ankles. The veins do not usually protrude, although they may cause discomfort and pain.
– Grade 3: At this stage, there is a dark blue or purple appearance of the veins, as the superficial veins enlarge or twist, causing the veins to appear above the surface, causing swelling, stinging, and burning sensations.
– Grade 4: During this stage, black spots begin to appear near the ankles, due to the ineffective function of the vessels located within the leg veins, which inhibits the flow of blood up to the heart, causing the blood to accumulate in the veins.
– Grade 5: The skin starts to decompose in grade 5 and can result in a non-healing ulcer. Treatments are delayed, resulting in damage to the entire skin, which can prolong the duration of treatment and recovery.
Varicose Veins Treatment
There are two varicose veins treatments these days which are non-surgical in nature. Both treatments are extremely safe and do not involve side effects. Varicose veins treatments are explained below in detail:
Sclerotherapy: An injection is used in sclerotherapy to stop the flow of blood through affected veins. By causing the veins to collapse and rerouting the blood to healthier vessels, this medical procedure helps eliminate varicose veins and spider veins. The veins gradually disappear after the procedure. Typically this process is used in the treatment of spider veins in order to improve the appearance of the affected skin. When large veins are involved, a procedure called foam sclerotherapy is used. In this procedure, the sclerosant solution is turned into foam before injecting it into the veins. This is because foam covers a larger surface area than liquid.
Radiofrequency Ablation: It is a medical procedure in which a radiofrequency needle is used to create heat lesions in a pain-transmitting nerve with an ablation of radiofrequency. As a result, the nerve is unable to send pain signals to the brain. Generally, a patient can go home on the same day after undergoing this procedure.
Varicose Veins Surgery
The best surgery for varicose veins differs from case to case basis. Based on the diagnosis conducted by your vascular surgeon, the best suited surgery is determined. The most frequently performed varicose veins surgery these days are explained below:
Endovenous laser therapy ablation: A minimally invasive procedure, endovenous laser therapy ablation (EVLA) involves the use of ultrasound images and laser fibres to kill the vein’s delicate lining. With minimal pain or discomfort, the body absorbs the dead tissue, closing off abnormal veins after a few days. Most people prefer this method since it involves fewer complications. This method has a much faster recovery time and a much higher success rate than any surgical procedure.
Vein ligation and stripping: An ulcer, clot, or other complications in the vein that has been ligated or stripped can be prevented by this surgical procedure. The procedure involves making two to three 5 cm incisions around the damaged veins, and then tying off or ligating them. Usually, recovery time from this procedure is longer than that of minimally invasive procedures. Patients suffering from trophic ulcers or varicose eczema are usually treated with this method as it is at this stage that the skin starts to decompose and forms a non-healing wound.
Transilluminated powered phlebectomy: During this surgery, excision of vein is conducted using a bright light (to illuminate the vein), which is known as an endoscopic transilluminator. There will be numerous incisions on your leg and the surgeon will place the transilluminator underneath your skin so they can see the veins that need to be removed. Once the veins have been identified, they will be cut and removed using a suction device through the incisions.
Symptoms of Varicose Veins
- 1. An itching sensation around the veins
- 2. A feeling of heaviness or pain in the legs
- 3. Discoloration of the skin around varicose veins
- 4. Inflammation of the lower legs
- 5. A feeling of throbbing sensation
- 6. Muscle cramps and burning in the legs
- 7. Pain when sitting and standing for an extended period of time
Causes of Varicose Veins
- 1. History of the family/ Hereditary traits
- 2. Long periods of sitting or standing
- 3. Obesity/excess weight
- 4. Pregnancy
- 5. Age
- 6. Hormonal changes
Diagnosis of Varicose Veins
Self diagnosis: When you stand up and place your leg in a certain position for a few minutes, the bulging veins in your leg will generally appear at the calf of your leg, but they may also appear at the knee, foot, or ankle as well. You may feel pain, heaviness, itchiness, burning, cramping, and swollen lower legs as well as cramps and muscle cramps. Standing and sitting for a long time will cause severe pain as well.
Diagnosis by doctor: In order to diagnose your condition, a vascular surgeon will first do a physical examination and check for swelling of your legs as you stand upright, as well as asking you about your discomfort or pain. A doctor might request that you undergo an ultrasound scan or doppler test after he or she finishes diagnosing your condition physically to see if a blood clot has formed. The tests are explained below:
– Doppler test: Using an ultrasound device, this test determines how the blood flows through the arms, legs, and large arteries. Patients generally tolerate this test well since it is non-invasive and simple to perform. A handheld device, called a transducer, is used to place a water-soluble gel during the test. Once this device has been gently passed over the skin above the blood vessels, it allows sound waves to be directed towards the arteries and veins that are being tested.
– Ultrasound test: This test is helpful if a patient has a history of deep vein thrombosis, as it enables a detailed examination of deep veins. Using a venous ultrasound, it is possible to identify damaged aortic valves and abnormal blood flow in the body.
Varicose Veins Vs Spider Veins
Varying in size and shape, varicose veins look twisted and swollen. Most often, they appear in the legs and can be observed through the skin. In addition to being small and twisted, spider veins appear red, purple, and blue in colour. These veins are also easily visible to the naked eye. Typically, they are found on the legs, chest, or face.
Risk Factors & Complications
During the surgery: During the surgical procedure, a patient might be placed under anaesthesia to reduce pain and discomfort. This might result in complications such as difficulty breathing and other complications depending on how the body reacts to the anaesthesia. Nerve injury near the site of treatment: Nerve injuries during surgery are rare, but can occur when the nerve is stretched, compressed, or cut. In some cases, deep vein thrombosis can complicate surgical procedures. Despite the rarity of this complication, patients with severe varicose veins are significantly more likely to develop blood clots. Certain medications, such as aspirins and blood thinners, may lead to heavy bleeding during surgery if they are not avoided prior to a week before surgery.
If left untreated: When varicose veins aren’t treated, several complications may occur, including:
- 1. Increased swelling and pain
- 2. Skin ulcers
- 3. Spontaneous bleeding
- 4. Superficial thrombophlebitis (ST)
- 5. Lipodermatosclerosis
- 6. Blood clots
- 7. Deep Vein Thrombosis
Prevention from Varicose Veins
Varicose veins can’t be prevented from forming, but there are a number of steps that can be taken in order to slow their progression. Among these are:
- 1. Avoiding standing or sitting for long hours
- 2. Eating a fibre-rich diet
- 3. Regular exercising, losing weight
- 4. Avoiding tight clothing or high heels for a long period
- 5. Wearing compression stockings
- 6. Elevating the legs
Foods to Eat in Varicose Veins
Adding colourful vegetables and fruits to a low-carb, low-calorie diet that’s rich in fibre can help reduce varicose veins.
– Avocados are rich sources of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, which fights inflammation, and vitamin E, which reduces clotting and helps prevent stroke. Avocados also protect veins from oxidative damage.
– Blackberries contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that prevent blood clots and can strengthen capillaries to prevent varicose veins.
– Beets contain chemicals that allow more fluid to flow through blood vessels, which promotes vein health. In addition, they can lower blood pressure and improve circulation.
– Ginger is an effective natural remedy for vascular problems. It increases circulation of the blood and reduces fibrin in the blood vessels, preventing the veins from hardening.
– High fibre foods, such as flaxseeds and chia seeds relieve lower body pressure by preventing bloating.
As critical as eating healthy is drinking at least half a gallon of water to avoid dehydration since it will keep the blood pumping.
Foods to Avoid in Varicose Veins
It is also important to know what foods to avoid that can damage the veins when maintaining a healthy diet. If you have varicose veins, you should avoid sugary, salty, and highly refined carbs foods.
– Fried foods can clog your arteries making it harder for the blood to flow through them.
– Avoid dairy products like milk and cheese because they slow down the digestive system and cause constipation, leading to swelling in the veins.
– Most processed meats contain high levels of sodium and cause water retention, resulting in thicker blood and harder pumping.
– During the process of making white bread, nutrients that promote healthy veins are stripped from the bread.
– Drinking alcohol dehydrates you and makes your veins sluggish.
Thus, maintaining a healthy diet can help prevent varicose veins or slow their development by improving circulation. As a result, healthy eating reduces the symptoms.
Best Exercises for Varicose Veins
Some the best exercises that can prevent varicose veins or stop it from escalation are explained below:
Walking or running: If you walk just 30 minutes each day, five days a week, you can reap substantial benefits. To minimize the stress on your joints, run on grassy surfaces or synthetic tracks.
Leg lifts: Leg lift exercise provides numerous benefits when performed on a regular basis. It is also great news that this is one of the varicose vein exercises that requires no equipment. As you begin your leg lifts, lie flat on your back and extend your feet straight out. Raising one leg at a time, hold it in the air as you do so. Reverse the motion and raise the other leg.
Cycling: Using a stationary cycle or bicycle can also be helpful. Cycling strengthens your calf muscles and keeps the blood flowing out of your legs. This bicycle leg exercise is a viable alternative if you don’t have access to a bike. Place your legs in the air, bending them at the knees, while lying on your back. Steadily pedal them as if you were riding a bicycle. Use both legs at once or alternate between them.
Lunges: This stimulates your heart to pump blood. When doing lunges, make sure your legs are apart. Slowly advance, keeping your knee directly above your ankle as you bend your knee. As you hold your leg, slowly straighten it and step back into your starting position. Do the same with the other leg. Raise yourself up on your tiptoes while standing straight. Lower yourself back down. Repeat.
Rocking your feet: In the same way that calf raises strengthen leg muscles, rocking your feet works your circulation. In addition, it can also help you improve your balance. As you sit or stand, rock your feet back and forth from heel to toe. If health conditions prevent you from participating in other forms of exercise, this can be done at any time.
Best Sitting Position to Prevent Varicose Veins
Varicose veins can be prevented by selecting the right sitting positions. Here are a few suggestions:
Put your legs up: Gravity and blood flow exert the most pressure on your legs for an extended period of time. By elevating them every now and then, you can prevent leg veins from forming. Try putting a few pillows under them, or, if possible, lay down while doing that to get better results.
Don’t cross your legs: During cross-legged postures, the vessels in the back of your knees get constrict, causing circulation problems. This actually does more harm than good. As stated previously, just put your feet flat on the floor or elevate them.
Small exercises can do wonders: Likewise, sitting down for an extended period of time while stationary is not recommended. In order to get the blood flowing, it is sometimes a good idea to stretch your ankles or peddle your feet every now and then to get the blood flowing. Every half-hour, getting up and moving around can make a huge impact on your health.
When to Consult a Doctor?
Are varicose veins going to disappear on their own eventually? Do varicose veins pose any health risks? Do I need to see a doctor about my varicose veins?
Are these questions on your mind? You’re not alone. There is more to varicose veins than just surface symptoms. Unless treated, varicose veins can lead to serious health concerns. Consult your doctor about varicose veins if:
- 1. Ankle or leg ulcers don’t heal
- 2. Extremely swollen legs or ankles
- 3. Changes in skin colour around legs or ankles
- 4. Tight or fibrous texture in the legs or ankles
- 5. Intense cramping or uncontrollable spasms in the legs
Why Choose Glamyo Health for Varicose Veins Treatment?
Glamyo Health has expert surgeons who are capable of treating varicose veins and giving permanent relief from its painful symptoms through a quick laser procedure. The surgery is US FDA-approved, almost painless and involves minimal chances of infection. Additionally, Glamyo Health offers several other benefits, including free pick-up & drop, AC room for the patient & attendant, treatment in nearby hospital, cashless treatment option, no cost EMI, discounted diagnostic tests, etc.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the main cause of varicose veins?
Varicose veins are caused by valves inside the veins that become dysfunctional, allowing blood to pool in the veins rather than travel to the heart.
Can you get rid of varicose veins?
The treatment for varicose veins includes self-care measures, food restrictions and wearing compression stockings. However, the permanent cure against varicose veins is surgery which is mostly performed as an outpatient procedure.
What happens if varicose veins are left untreated?
If left untreated, varicose veins can cause ulcers, bleeding and skin discoloration. Varicose veins with a severe appearance may be a sign of chronic venous insufficiency affecting the veins’ ability to pump blood to your heart.
How can I stop varicose veins from getting worse?
In order to stop varicose veins from getting worse, you can exercise regularly, lose weight, if obese, avoid sitting & standing for long hours, restrain from wearing tight-fitted clothes, wear compression stockings, shift to a healthy diet.
How common are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are a common condition that affects 30% of adults. The condition is more common in women.
What are the chances of my varicose veins recurring?
With time, the probability of recurrent varicose veins increases. Approximately 1 in 5 patients who have had previous varicose vein surgery suffer from recurrent varicose veins. Injection sclerotherapy, for example, has a higher recurrence rate.
Do I need to treat my varicose veins immediately?
If you are experiencing grade 3 or grade 4 varicose veins then you should consider taking immediate medical help. For grade 1 and grade 2 varicose veins condition, you can opt for non-surgical treatment along with regular exercise and dietary changes