Varicose veins are enlarged veins, typically seen in clusters, that are often twisted and stick out on the surface of the skin. These veins are most commonly seen in the thighs and calves. Varicose veins typically begin to develop when a vein which is below the skin surface (and thus not visible to the naked eye) develops a weakened wall. When the vein wall weakens, this affects the valves in the vein which normally help the blood to move up the leg. When the valves don’t work well blood pools in the superficial veins, especially with prolonged standing. Over the course of time, the veins dilate and varicose veins form.
Causes of varicose veins
There are different reasons why people get varicose veins. These causes include:
- Heredity – The most common reason is simply heredity. If one of your parents or siblings has varicose veins, you have an increased chance of getting varicose veins yourself.
- Pregnancy (in particular, multiple pregnancies)
- Jobs or lifestyles that involve prolonged standing or sitting
- History of DVT (blood clots in the deep veins of the legs)
- Advancing age
Signs and Symptoms of Varicose Veins
For some patients, they may be little more than a cosmetic concern. However, varicose veins can be accompanied by uncomfortable symptoms. Signs and symptoms of varicose veins include:
- Enlarged, twisted veins that bulge out from the skin
- Aching, cramping or throbbing pain in the legs
- Itchy skin around the affected veins
- Pain after sitting or standing for long periods
- Leg swelling, fatigue, heaviness, or restlessness
- Thickening, hardening or discoloration of the skin
- The appearance of skin ulcers, usually around the ankle
In addition, varicose veins can be associated with other venous problems, such as formation of blood clots in the deep veins (i.e., deep venous thrombosis or DVT).
Diagnosis of Varicose Veins
It is important to properly diagnose the exact cause of the varicose veins prior to attempting treatment. This diagnosis is usually made by both a physical exam and the performance of an ultrasound. The expertise of the person(s) performing and reading the ultrasound is critical to choosing the appropriate treatment.
In the best of circumstances, you should be diagnosed by a qualified vein specialist who is also a skilled sonographer…and one who has a wide variety of treatment options at his/her disposal to suit your particular needs.
Treatment of Varicose Veins
Varicose veins can be an unsightly, uncomfortable medical condition, but the good news is there are many minimally invasive treatment options available, including EVLT, RFA, VenaSeal, Clarivein, and Ultrasound Guided Sclerotherapy. To learn more about treatment options for varicose veins, contact our team at Beach Cities Vein & Laser Center at (310) 986-6500 and get ready to say goodbye to varicose veins today!