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:: In Brief

 

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:: Varicose Veins

Healthy Women & Varicose Veins
  Healthy Women
  Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are abnormally and permanently enlarged, twisted surface veins, most commonly seen in the legs.

To help with blood movement in the body there are small valves in the veins. These keep blood flowing towards the heart. The valves close as blood flows through the veins to prevent the blood from running backwards. If the valves become damaged, blood back flows and pools in the veins causing them to bulge.

Varicose veins affect about two out of ten adults.

Varicose veins cause a variety of symptoms, including swelling, aching, discomfort or pain in the legs. They can also cause problems such as blood clots in the veins, skin rashes or skin ulcers.
 

Cause: 

The cause of varicose veins is unknown. Most stories about the causes are folklore. Varicose veins have no known link to diet, constipation, tight garments, garters, crossing the legs, sunbathing or waxing the legs.

Seventy per cent of people with varicose veins have an immediate relative, such as mother or sister, who also has varicose veins. In addition to family factors, other factors which increase your chance of developing varicose veins are a job that involves standing on your feet or sitting down for long periods, obesity, lack of exercise, and the number of pregnancies.

Spider veins - superficial veins occur when tiny veins congregate below the surface of the skin, causing red, blue or purple discoolourations.  They are harmless and any treatment usually is done for cosmetic reasons only.

Treatments: 

The following treatments can help with varicose veins:

  • Graduated Compression - support stockings and bandages to support the veins and muscles in the legs to prevent blood pooling and also hide the veins. They can be used to tightly cover the skin and press the walls of the varicose veins closer together. This helps blood flow in the veins
  • Medication to assist in relieving the aches and pains associated with varicose veins. For some patients, a surgeon may prescribe a diuretic drug, which reduces swelling of the legs by increasing the amount of urine passed
  • Sclerotherapy - injections of a solution into the vein that causes an irritation to the vein. The leg is then bandaged to push the vein walls together so that it is sealed off with scar tissue. Bandaging is required for three to six days for small veins and from three to six weeks for larger veins. Bandaging is required to stop blood clots forming inside the vein after the injections
  • EVLT (Endevenous Laser Therapy) - provides a percutaneous technique to destroy larger diameter saphenous veins as an outpatient procedure under local anaesthetic, with minimal disruption of activities and no surgical trauma
  • Surgery. The procedure is now far less intrusive with a shorter time spent in hospital. The patient is usually admitted to hospital on the evening before, or on the day of the operation. The operation may be carried out in various ways. Some surgeons simply tie off the vein while others remove or strip some or all of the vein. After surgery, the legs are usually firmly bandaged to reduce bruising.
     

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