Varicose veins are abnormal, enlarged and twisted vessels on the legs and feet. If left untreated, they may cause discomfort, pain, ulcers and clots.
Varicose veins or varicosis occurs when blood vessels just beneath the skin become larger, twisted, bulging, increasingly visible, and bluish or dark purple in color. The condition typically affects the legs and feet. It is encountered in 20% of the adult population and becomes more common with age. After 50, one in every two people has varicose veins. Women, overweight people and those who have to stand still or sit at a desk for a long time are more likely to develop varicosis.
Spider veins are a milder form of varicose veins. These are capillary varices, usually red in color and smaller than 1 mm in diameter. They may resemble a spider web on the skin surface.
A varicose vein develops when the small valve inside stops working properly. The blood is not pumped to the heart effectively; it accumulates inside the vein and deforms the valve even more. The increased pressure makes the vessel’s wall weaker, the vein expands and becomes visible. Varicosis occurs.
The estrogen hormone may relax the veins’ walls and trigger the formation of varicose veins. That is why the condition is more common in women. Usage of birth control pills and pregnancy may also contribute to the formation of enlarged vessels. The risk is higher for those who have a family member with varicosis. Risk factors include sedentary lifestyle, overweight, exposure to heat and hot climate, constipation, wearing accessories such as knee pads, knee bands or high-heel shoes.
Swollen veins have a distinctive look and therefore, the most common complaint is deterioration in the appearance of the legs. Besides the visible part, common symptoms of varicose veins are:
Varicose veins symptoms may vary from one person to another. They are usually more intensive during hot weather or longer inactive periods.
Doctors use the universal CEAP scale to evaluate the problem and determine the varicose veins treatment. The stages are classified as below:
At an early stage, the symptoms of varicose veins can be controlled with lifestyle changes, such as a healthy diet, regular exercise, and compression stockings.
Varicose veins are a common condition and for many people they do not cause problems other than aesthetics. However, if you have been experiencing negative symptoms such as pain, swelling, or discoloration of the skin, contact a doctor for evaluation. Keep in mind that the longer you live with this problem, the higher your risk of complications.
Varicosis is one of the most neglected diseases by both physicians and patients. It is typically ignored until reaching the severe stages. Varicose veins are much more than a cosmetic problem. If left untreated, leaking valves may cause clotting and inflammation (thrombophlebitis) in the vein. This condition leads to vascular occlusions and respiratory failure ranging from occlusion in the lungs (pulmonary embolism) to death by clot rupture.
Nowadays, open surgery is replaced by minimally invasive methods for the treatment of varicose veins. Some of them are performed as outpatient procedures and do not require a hospital stay. Thanks to the new techniques performed at ACIBADEM, better cosmetic results are obtained with maximum comfort for the patient.
To determine the right treatment, a specialist in Vascular Surgery will examine the patient and identify the source points causing the varicose. Color Doppler ultrasound is the best tool used to diagnose varicose veins and visualize the blood flow through the valves. Vessel mapping helps to evaluate which vessels should be intervened. Based on these findings, the specialist may recommend surgery or other procedures. These might include: