Veins, which are responsible for bringing blood back to your heart, have one-way valves that help keep blood flowing in the right direction. If those valves are weak or damaged, blood can back up and pool in your veins, causing them to swell. Over time, repeated pooling and swelling can lead to varicose veins, which are the swollen, twisted, purple- or blue-colored veins sitting just beneath the surface of your skin. The veins in your lower body are more likely to become varicose because working against gravity places them under more pressure.
While anyone can develop varicose veins, they’re most common in women in general, women who have had multiple pregnancies, and older adults. Being sedentary or overweight and having a family history of varicose veins can also increase your risk.
Even though varicose veins may look painful, they aren’t always a source of discomfort. Painful symptoms that do occur include:
Varicose veins don’t usually cause medical problems, but they can burst and bleed, or cause painful skin ulcers, usually in veins near the ankles.
Spider veins are a mild variation of varicose veins that occur closer to the surface of the skin. These smaller, web-like veins, which are usually red or blue, can be commonly found in the legs as well as the face.
Exercising, elevating your legs, wearing compression stockings, and other self-care measures help alleviate uncomfortable varicose veins and prevent them from worsening. There are several varicose vein treatment options available.
Used to treat small to mid-sized varicose veins, including spider veins, this treatment involves injecting a solution into the veins that causes them to collapse. This procedure, which is done in-office and requires no recovery time, is particularly useful for treating early-stage varicose veins, thereby preventing further complications.
Endovascular laser venous therapy (ELVT) or Venefit™ therapy
This minimally invasive in-office treatment involves using pulses of laser light or gentle heat to collapse the vein and seal it shut. This procedure is performed under local anesthesia, and you’ll be able to walk very shortly afterward. Most people return to work the following day.
Also known as ambulatory phlebectomy, this in-office procedure involves the surgical removal of smaller varicose veins through a series of skin punctures. Scarring is minimal and virtually imperceptible.
Varithena is a foam that is injected into varicose veins under ultrasound guidance to make visible veins less visible.
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