Contrary to popular belief, varicose veins are a common complaint for men and women of all ages. In fact, around 30% of all adults suffer from varicose veins so this is not a condition that only impacts women in middle age, although they are more prone to developing the symptoms.
So what are varicose veins? The most obvious symptom of the condition is the enlarged purple or red veins that often protrude from the skin, typically at the back of the leg. This is caused by these veins failing to function effectively and allowing blood to flow backwards which creates a “pooling”. This “pooling” of blood enlarges the veins which causes pain and swelling.
As mentioned, anyone can develop this condition but a variety of factors can make an individual more prone to suffering from varicose veins including:
- Pregnancy – the increased blood flow during pregnancy places additional strain on your veins and valves. Also, the hormones secreted can relax the walls of your blood vessels increasing the risk of leaking
- Obesity and age – the valves in your veins can become overworked as you age or if you are overweight which impacts their effectiveness
- A family history of varicose veins
What are the effects of varicose veins?
For many, the biggest effect of varicose veins is the unsightly and often painful veins that protrude from the skin. This can also impact on your mental health causing anxiety or depression as your confidence may take a hit.
But there are also medical risks which you must be aware of too. Although there are unlikely to be any major risks for a few years after developing the condition; the longer you leave the issue untreated the greater the risk of further complications later. As the vessels are unable to ensure correct blood flow other issues may arise such as deep vein thrombosis, ulcers or even pulmonary embolism where a blood vessel in the lungs becomes blocked, which can be life-threatening.
Is there anything I can do to minimize the effects of varicose veins this summer?
Compression socks or stockings can have a minimal impact on combatting varicose veins. These garments can help to normalize blood flow and can ease the pressure on blood vessels that are overworked. However, it is vital that you ensure that you wear the correct type of compression socks for your condition. Gradient stockings are popular and apply less pressure the further up your leg which can boost blood flow. Always consult a medical practitioner before you start wearing compression stockings to ensure that they will be beneficial to you.
If you are traveling for an extended period of time it is important that you take regular breaks and stay hydrated to help to boost blood flow. If you are dehydrated your blood thickens and is more prone to clotting, so drink water as often as possible!
How can I treat varicose veins?
The good news is that you can treat varicose veins at any time. Although the start of the year may be the best time to begin treatment if you are hoping to treat your varicose veins before you head off on holiday in the summer as this ensures that you have ample time to recover.
Always consult a medical practitioner to ensure that you are aware of the treatment options available to you. Some of the most commonly used surgeries include heat-based techniques including Endovenous Laser ablation and Radiofrequency ablation which seals the veins and redirects blood flow via the healthy veins. These techniques have the advantage of boasting very high success rates with a much lower risk of major complications compared to other surgeries.
Other popular treatments include foam sclerotherapy where a chemical is injected to block the leaky veins. However, this technique may require repeat treatments on larger veins and reoccurrences of symptom can be common.
No doubt you will also hear plenty of scare stories about having treatment for varicose veins. Whilst you are unable to sunbather after laser treatment for varicose veins it is fine to be out in the sun after injection sclerotherapy. A vein care specialist explains that it is also possible to swim after just a few days despite many believing that you cannot swim for six weeks after surgery. Clearly, varicose vein treatment does not need to ruin your holiday!
The biggest misconception is that varicose vein surgery is a waste of time as the veins will only reappear. With the latest techniques, reoccurrences are rare so any discomfort during the process will be rewarded by the fact that you have healthy blood vessels and renewed confidence.
Have you or a loved one suffered from varicose veins?
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