Varicose Veins affect about 25 percent of the general population. Varicose veins are superficial veins that are swollen and blue or purple in color as they show through the skin, usually on the legs and feet.
The superficial veins lie below the surface of the skin, and are connected by perforator veins which connect to deep veins that supply blood to the heart. Varicose veins develop when the valves in the deep veins don’t contract properly. The contractions in the deep veins are what keeps the blood circulating to the heart. The muscles in your legs contract forcing the blood to pass through valves that open and close to keep the blood flowing toward the heart. When the valves close it prevents the blood from flowing down towards the feet.
Varicose veins are thought to develop when the valves in the deep veins don’t close properly. The blood will flow back and pool causing the veins to stretch and budge.
Varicose veins may cause symptoms such as aching, itching, and swelling of the ankle. However, most people do not have many symptoms beyond the appearance.
Pregnancy and Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are the most common problem that occurs in the last trimester of pregnancy. This is due to changing hormones and the continued growth of the uterus. Combined, these increase the blood flow to the heart creating more pressure on the veins; creating varicose veins.
Elderly and Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are commonly associated with poor leg vein function and poor muscle strength. Poor leg vein function has been shown to extend from the calf all the way to the thigh. A leg vein problem has shown poor muscle function from the calf to the thigh. Week muscle function of the legs can also pose another threat: increasing the rate of falls in the elderly.
The most common treatment for varicose veins is Foam Sclerotherapy (polidocanol injectable foam). This is used to remove veins that are twisted, and therefore too curved to accept a catheter. Sclerotherapy is a foam medication that is injected into the veins to close down the veins and reduce the visibility. The veins treated will contract causing the vein to close and die, allowing healthy veins to circulate the blood flow.
Sclerotherapy, or varicose vein foam treatment, is used for a wide range of varicose veins.
- Tortuous (twisted) veins
- Veins above and below the knee
- Veins with small, medium, and large diameters
- Veins previously treated with other methods
Sclerotherapy is performed as an outpatient procedure which requires the patient to wear protective compression stockings for 48 hours after the procedure. After the 48 hours, the patient can remove the stockings but must wear the compression stockings for the majority of the day for the next 14 days.
The process of Sclerotherapy is virtually painless, and medication is usually given to reduce swelling. The only inconvenience is wearing the compression stockings for 14 days, and nights to make sure no blood goes back into the dying vein.
Photo by dodongjan