About Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are very common. They generally appear as twisting, bulging rope-like cords on the legs, anywhere from groin to ankle.
Varicose veins affect an estimated 40% of women and 25% of men.
Fortunately, there are new and exciting treatments for varicose veins that make solving your problem easier than ever.
How Varicose Veins Occur
Arteries carry blood from your heart to your extremities (hands, feet, head, skin), delivering oxygen deep into the tissue. Veins then return the de-oxygenated blood (now blueish in color) back to your heart to be re-circulated. Nearly 75% of the body's blood is found in your lower limbs
To return this blood to the heart, your leg veins must work against gravity. Muscles in the leg squeeze the deep veins to help push blood forward.
Factors That Cause Varicose Veins
Small, one-way valves in the veins open to allow blood to flow upward, towards the heart, and then close to prevent it from flowing backwards. While deep veins are assisted in their efforts by muscles, a second type of leg vein, lying outside the muscle layer and closer to the skin (superficial veins), are not. The largest superficial vein is called the Great Saphenous Vein (GSV), which begins at the ankle and ends at the groin. Varicose veins occur when the valves in these superficial veins malfunction.
The vein walls can lose elasticity (due to age or hormones) causing them to stretch. When this occurs, the valve may be unable to close, allowing blood that should be moving towards the heart to flow backward (called venous reflux). Blood collects in your lower veins causing them to enlarge and become varicose. In this manner, faulty valves high on the leg may cause varicose veins lower down (e.g., mid or lower leg).
Development Factors Of Varicose Veins
If your parents and grandparents had the problem you are at increased risk.
Women have a higher incidence of varicose vein disease due in part to female hormones' effect on vein walls.
Blood volume increases during pregnancy and hormonal effects contribute to vein enlargement.
The tissues of our vein walls lose elasticity as we age causing the valve system to fail.
Prolonged standing :
Occupations that involve standing for long periods of time cause increased volume and pressure of blood in the lower limbs due to the effects of gravity.
Increases in weight often increase abdominal pressure which may worsen vein problems.
Hormone levels :
Treatments like birth control pills and post-menopausal hormone replacement may cause the same hormonal effect as pregnancy.
Physical Trauma :
Injury to the lower limbs can damage underlying blood vessels and add to the problem.
If you experience symptoms and delay treatment, your symptoms may progress to more serious complications including: Inflammation (phlebitis), Blood clots (e.g., DVT), Ankle sores or skin ulcers, and Bleeding.