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3 Things You Should Know About Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are unusually large and swollen veins that mostly appear on the legs and feet of an individual. The veins on the legs and feet are more likely to become varicose since they work harder to return the blood to the heart. This is because they work against gravity. Varicose veins can be only a cosmetic issue to some individuals but can pose serious health issues to some.

Here are the 3 most important things you should know about this condition

Causes and Symptoms of Varicose Veins

Damaged and weak valves lead to varicose veins. The small valve is open as the blood flows forward towards the heart and then closes to prevent backflow. When these valves are weak or damaged, blood accumulates in the vein causing the veins to bulge, stretch and twist.

This weakening of the valves is caused by:

  •  Family history – If some members of your family have this condition, then you are more likely to develop it too. This condition is hereditary.
  • Age – the risk of developing varicose veins increases with the age of the individual. This is because aging is directly proportional to the weakening of the valves due to increased wear and tear. This weakening causes blood to collect in the veins instead of flowing back to the heart.
  • Gender – women have a higher chance of developing varicose veins than men. This is because female hormones have the effect of relaxing vein walls. Hormonal treatments including birth control might also increase the risk of developing varicose veins.
  • Obesity – if one is overweight, there is more pressure on the veins. This causes them to weaken at a quick rate because of the increased workload.
  • Pregnancy – more women develop varicose veins during pregnancy. This is because there is an increased blood volume to support the growing fetus, which causes the enlargement of veins in the legs. This enlargement of veins coupled with hormonal changes during pregnancy can lead to varicose veins.
  • Sitting or standing for extended periods. Blood does not circulate well through the body if you maintain the same posture for a long time.

Some symptoms of varicose veins are purely cosmetic, with no health issues or discomforts associated with it. These symptoms include:

  • The veins turn blue or dark purple
  • The veins appear bulging, swollen, and twisted

Other patients may also show symptoms such as:

  • Swollen ankles
  • Leg cramps when suddenly standing up
  • Painful or aching legs
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • stasis dermatitis – the skin around the affected region is dry and itchy
  • Discoloration of the skin around the affected vein

How Can Varicose Veins Be Treated?

If your varicose veins are not causing you any discomfort, you may not need to seek treatment. However, there are some reasons one should seek treatment. This may be to treat some complications associated with this condition, to ease the symptoms, and for cosmetic reasons.

Some of the treatment options of varicose veins include:


Sometimes, large varicose veins have to be removed surgically to avoid further complications. The most commonly used technique is the ligation and stripping technique. It involves tying off the affected vein and then removing it. Anyone looking for this kind of treatment should visit for more information and advice. After the procedure, one may need up to three weeks to recover before carrying on with their normal routine.


This type of treatment involves injecting a chemical into the veins and is usually suitable for patients with small or medium-sized veins. The chemical causes the veins to scar and thus seals them closed.  One may require over one treatment before the vein fades, and there is also a chance that the varicose vein may reappear.

Other relatively new treatment techniques include; endovenous laser treatment, radiofrequency ablation, transilluminated powered phlebectomy. 

Complications Related to Varicose Veins

Although varicose veins-related complications are rare. These complications may take several years to manifest themselves. They may include:

  • Blood clots – this condition is known medically as thrombophlebitis. It occurs when veins deep within the leg accumulate blood and become enlarged. The patient may experience leg pain and swelling around the affected vein.
  • Ulcers – these normally begin as discolored spots on the skin near the varicose vein especially near the ankles. These ulcers are usually painful.
  • Chronic venous insufficiency – this is caused by the long-term disruption of the exchange of nutrients, oxygen, and waste products between the skin and blood. This insufficiency can also lead to other conditions such as varicose eczema.

Although there is minimal evidence suggesting that we can prevent varicose veins, early diagnosis and treatment can help avert some of the adverse complications linked to this condition.

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