Varicose veins are a common condition that typically affects women and those who have occupations that require standing or sitting for long periods of time. They can develop anywhere in the body but are most common in the legs.
Varicose veins occur when the valves in the veins do not work correctly, causing blood to pool, resulting in swelling and discoloration of the affected veins. Symptoms include cramping, achiness, or heaviness in your legs, but some people report no symptoms at all.
Women, especially if pregnant, and people who are older or overweight are more at risk.
A health risk?
Many people with varicose veins don’t like how they look, but do they pose a health risk?
For varicose veins that are causing discomfort, there are home remedies you can try first. “Patients can wear compression socks throughout the day to relieve symptoms. Compression is also a great preventative measure for those who are at risk for developing varicose veins,” says Alyssa Bonta, MD, vascular surgeon with Kettering Physician Network.
When compression isn’t enough to relieve symptoms, Dr. Bonta recommends scheduling an appointment for further testing to determine if a procedure would be helpful. Kettering Physician Network Heart & Vascular has many options available including:
- VenaSeal™: an injectable adhesive that closes the affected vein. VenaSeal™ is a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure with a quick recovery period; patients can resume normal activities within 48 hours.
- Ablation: a catheter that uses radiofrequency or a laser to cauterize the vein, causing it to close. Ablation is also a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure and normal activities can be resumed 48 hours after the procedure.
- Phlebectomy: A small incision is used to remove the affected vein. Phlebectomies are done in an operating room and are typically an outpatient procedure. Recovery takes approximately one to two weeks.
Even if varicose veins aren’t causing pain, they can get worse over time if left untreated. For varicose veins that are only a cosmetic concern, Dr. Bonta recommends trying compression socks for six to eight weeks to see if they improve the look of your varicose veins.
However, if you notice bleeding or an ulcer on the skin, you should see a doctor. “If the vein is bleeding through the skin or there is an ulcer, this means there is venous inefficiency, and the vein won’t heal until a doctor takes care of it. At this point, the vein needs to be taken care of immediately,” says Dr. Bonta.
Learn more about varicose veins and treatment options.