Updated: Sep 25, 2020
Many times people have certain conditions that are mistaken or not known to common people; Varicose Veins is one of them. If you have Varicose Veins and are wondering what to do, these 16 facts will help you understand it better.
16 Things You Need To Know About Varicose Veins
What are Varicose Veins? Varicose veins are a disease of veins of lower limb which get swollen up. We usually have valves in the veins, which allow the blood to go in only one direction, from legs to heart. However, in varicose veins, these valves are damaged, allowing blood to stay in these veins, which then get swollen up, resulting in varicose veins.
What causes Varicose Veins? While there is no particular cause for varicose vein, it is commonly seen in patients who have long-standing jobs like police officers, traffic policemen, office workers, security guards, conductors and teachers. Also, middle-aged women between 40-50 years, who have had one to 2 children, have a very high number. One more factor is women who wear high heels for a very long time. Most of us think that only the older population such as our grandmothers can get embarrassing varicose veins or unsightly spider veins. But it's not like that… Our expert says that it's just not right that only older women or grandmothers get varicose veins. In our practice, we frequently see women/ young people in their 20s or 30s who have developed bulging, painful varicose veins or blue-red ugly spider veins and even with ulcer formation. Anything that puts pressure on your legs can cause venous insufficiency, which can cause your legs to bulge and expand, resulting in varicose veins or spider veins. This includes genetics and pregnancy as the main factors that cause vein disease, which is more common with increasing age, while standing for long periods of time and obesity are other factors commonly associated.
Are Varicose Veins Painful or Dangerous? Varicose veins usually enlarge and worsen over time. Severe varicose veins can cause health problems, including: Debilitating/ lifestyle-altering symptoms - Spider/ reticular veins that may advance to non-healing sores or skin ulcers. If you have a long-standing ulcer-wound over the lower leg, swelling with surrounding blackish discolouration of the skin around the ankle, you might be suffering from Varicose veins. It's better to consult and treat varicose veins early; else once the ulcer develops, then it takes more time for the ulcer to heal. Ongoing irritation, swelling and painful rashes of the legs.
What are the Symptoms of Varicose Veins? The obvious complaint is dilated veins in the legs. Another complaint is swelling in the legs. Also, long-standing varicose veins can lead to blackening of leg around the ankle and ulcer formation. Classically, these patients complain in legs (at the calf region) after working, especially in the evening-night. Symptoms - 1) Pain, heaviness or tiredness in legs, 2) Swelling, blackish discolouration, thickening and itching skin of legs 3) Bumpy, twisted swollen veins on legs 4) Cramps, night pain and non-healing venous ulcer over leg near the ankle
Why do Varicose Veins usually appear in the Legs? The force of gravity, the pressure of body weight, and the task of carrying blood from the bottom of the body up to the heart, against gravity make the legs the primary location for varicose veins. This pressure can be stronger than the vein's one-way valves.
How common are Varicose Veins? Very common, range extends from 20-30% and as age advances, chances of having spider or varicose veins increases. Varicose veins are estimated to be seen in every fourth person above 40 years. This disease can affect anyone from the age of 25 to 80 years of age: obesity, leg injury and other things that weaken vein valves.
How do we diagnose Varicose Veins at EndoVascular Expert Centers? We diagnose it by clinical examination and colour Doppler Ultrasound of the affected leg. On colour Doppler USG, we check the patency of valves and also map the dilated veins, allowing us to plan our procedure, whether tablets and stockings will be enough or there is a need for laser treatment.
How do we treat it? We can treat it by a universally accepted technique called Endo-Venous Laser Therapy (EVLT) or in short it’s called LASER. Its 1-2 hours procedure in OT with strict precautions under antibiotic cover. This is a minimally invasive procedure, with no scars or sutures. It is done under local anaesthesia and the patient is discharged the same day itself. Best part is that the patient can resume his/ her routine work from the next day itself.Best part is the patient can resume the routine work from the next day itself. Patient doesn't need to take additional post-operative bed rest or work leave. Advantage- a) Worldwide unanimously accepted and practised minimal invasive treatment for varicose veins. b) Get painless, effective, long-lasting or permanent treatment of varicose veins in a single day. c) Admission and discharge the same day.
Is the treatment Painful and how long is the Recovery Process? After the varicose veins treatment options, let’s see if it has any post effects on body or pain. The good thing about the current treatment of varicose veins is that it is relatively pain-free. In the past, treatment required a hospital stay and a painful surgical procedure called vein stripping. New techniques and technology have led to the new laser and radiofrequency approach that can be performed in 1-2 hour and have you back on your feet on the same day.
What Precautions do I have to take Post-Procedure? Apart from post-procedure medications for 3-5 days, we advise patients to wear compression stocking 8 hours during day time for 3-6 months. Also, patients are advised to be on strict follow up on USG with us, showing us at 1, 3 and 6 months.
What is the recovery time for Varicose Veins? You may resume normal activities immediately, but you might experience discomfort and bruise along the course of the treated vein. Continue with tablets, antibiotics and painkiller-anti-inflammatory tablets as advised. You can apply an ice-pack at the site of pain to reduce pain, swelling. We recommend waiting 7-10 days before resuming exercises such as running, weight lifting, or cycling. Until then, a modified workout is recommended: walking is encouraged, treadmill use is fine, but running, or vigorous activity like weight-bearing exercises is not acceptable, specific to the legs, as those will exert extra force onto the lower extremities. Because the vein is in the healing process, any additional force may cause the treated vein to reopen. A string-like sensation of little tightness– pulling along the length of the treated vein is normal and to be expected. Prior to treatment, the veins are very flexible. However, once treated, the vein contracts and becomes scar tissue–typically perceived as a cord-like sensation. This can develop 1-4 weeks after treatment and resolves over time. Some patients may experience a decrease and/ or a loss of sensation localized to the treatment area, especially along the shinbone and/ or ankle region. This is due to nerve irritation, and will resolve gradually throughout the healing process in 3-6 months. Nothing is needed for this.
Any specific dietary precautions? No. Normal healthy routine food, high in protein content is enough for the body to recover and heal.
What is the cost of the treatment and does Insurance cover the Varicose Veins surgery cost? Yes, since this is a disturbing and debilitating medical issue that can lead to serious health consequences, most insurance companies do cover the treatment of varicose veins. However, some companies consider this as a chronic illness and so covers varicose vein treatment after 1-2 years of insurance cover. Treatment cost varies if one or both legs need LASER treatment and if sclerotherapy is also needed or not. Also, depending on if insurance cover is paying or cash payment. For one leg it's approx. 60,000-80,000 and for two legs it is 80,000-1,20,000. However, this may vary with the country –state-city you live in.
How can you manage Varicose Veins? Is there any way we can prevent Varicose Veins? a) Avoid prolonged sitting or standing at one place- If you have to stand or sit for a long time in your job- shop-keeper, teacher, traffic policeman, office worker you should move around, keep moving legs. Standing or sitting at a place is one of the leading causes of varicose veins. b) Elevate Feet - Elevate your feet at night; this reduces swelling and improves blood flow. Exercise-routine exercises are very important to prevent varicose veins; this increases blood flow reducing their progression. c) Weight Loss - Increased weight puts pressure on legs reducing your blood flow and causing stagnation; hence gradual weight loss is necessary. d) Compression Stockings - Compression stockings are tight socks that increase back blood flow and also help in better treatment outcome of the LASER treatment in patients treated. e) Stop Smoking - Smoking restricts circulation and narrows blood vessels which can lead to poor circulation.
Does Varicose Veins happen during Pregnancy? Few women notice varicose veins during pregnancy, and for few, it becomes more prominent. Pregnancy doesn’t cause the varicose veins as such; it just aggravates the underlying problem, hence, there is a manifestation of the disease. The women who develop varicose veins during their pregnancy have an underlying genetic problem with their valves. As the baby grows, the uterus presses on and partially blocks the veins that are returning blood from your legs to your heart. The increased abdominal and pelvic pressure due to the growing baby on the valves in the pelvis puts pressure on the veins in the legs, which combined with the valve failure brings out the varicose veins. During pregnancy, hormones are produced, which make veins walls softer, which makes it harder for veins and valves to work properly. As a result, blood tends to pool in your legs, giving you swollen legs and varicose veins. While during pregnancy treatment for varicose veins is not approved, compression stockings can be worn if painful. It is worthwhile to consult a vascular specialist post your delivery. However, if varicose veins persist even after delivery for a long time, then you should consult a specialist.
When to see a doctor? Self-care — such as exercise, weight loss elevating your legs or wearing compression stockings — can help to reduce the symptoms and pain of varicose veins and may prevent them from getting worse. But if you're still concerned-worried about how your veins look, about pain and self-care measures haven't stopped your condition from getting worse, you should see your doctor. I wish you -Love your legs & Get back to active life again!