Varicose Veins – Symptoms and Treatments Available
For the most part, varicose veins are practically harmless. They don’t cause other symptoms to develop even when they are fully visible. Their appearance however may lead people to believe that there is something serious developing within the body. For the most part though, the sight of varicose veins is a purely cosmetic consideration. Their appearance can have psychological implications, lowering self-esteem through unsightly veins; this can drastically affect a person’s confidence and social mobility.
Nonetheless, there are occasions when varicose veins can lead to varying degrees of discomfort, including aching and itching. People that experience discomfort with varicose veins also find that their symptoms are most apparent during the evening, often following a day in which there has been a lot of standing. However these symptoms can be alleviated by lying prostrate and allowing the legs to rest. Women can also achieve relief from discomfort by wearing stockings for leg support.
In very few instances, varicose veins can lead to additional complications that develop into serious conditions. One instances of this is swelling of the leg. Most commonly, this symptom is restricted to only one leg, and requires the varicose vein to become quite large at first before swelling occurs. It is highly recommended that, even if varicose veins have developed in your legs, you should seek advice from a doctor as swelling may not be related to the veins themselves, and may be an indication of other conditions.
Varicose veins can also cause inflammation of the veins, commonly known as phlebitis. This is one of the more serious issues that can arise from varicose veins, where they become visibly red and painful to touch. Phlebitis is differentiated from the more serious deep-vein thrombosis – or DVT – which is another form of inflammation.
DVT occurs when deep veins in the thighs, or the calves, become inflamed and cause blood clots to form. Unless treated, the clots formed can cause major problems if they travel up to other parts of the body like lungs or the heart. However, though it is possible for varicose veins to become inflamed and develop into deeper vein inflammation, the links between the two are tentative. Nevertheless, DVT can develop in people with varicose veins for a number of different reasons.
Another severe case in which varicose veins develop into something more serious is in regards to changes in the skin. That is, varicose veins can lead to skin conditions like dermatitis and skin ulcers. This can occur when blood spills out from the veins into the surrounding tissues of the leg, causing visible discolouration around the skin; and the aforementioned conditions to develop.
People who develop varicose veins can sometimes find that they have both varicose and spider veins on their body – unlike varicose veins which are primarily found in the legs, spider veins can develop on the face or chest. However the development of one has no bearing on the other. Unlike varicose veins, where treatment should be a consideration for health reasons, spider veins are largely a cosmetic consideration for most people.
Treating Varicose Veins
The majority of people who develop varicose veins will require no treatment at all. However, it is important that anyone who develops varicose veins consults a professional to rule out future complications down the line. At a Melbourne or Geelong Cosmetic & Laser Medical Centre, we can help you diagnose whether your varicose veins will lead to further complications.
A large percentage of people who do develop varicose veins rarely ever see a professional to discuss the veins. Acknowledging that they are mostly harmless, many people ignore them, and figure that they are a cosmetic nuisance that they don’t really need to worry about – a common belief amongst men in particularly. This is backed by statistics which show that men only account for 12 per cent of total leg vein treatments.
Females who decide not to have surgery or laser therapy can use support stockings, which can alleviate some of the discomforts associated with varicose veins, such as aches, itching and swelling. Inflammation, or phlebitis, can be treated by anti-inflammation medication like aspirin.
If none of the non-surgical treatments help with the symptoms, surgery is often the next option available to people. The success rates of varicose vein surgery have increased in recent times, allowing for procedures which are not only less likely to lead to complications, but require less downtime for full recovery.
Removing varicose veins using surgical procedures can involve a few different techniques, including:
- Ligation: Under an anaesthetic, a patient’s varicose vein is tied off in a process called ligation, after which the vein is stripped and removed. This procedure can leave patients with slight bruising in the affected area, particularly for people who have excess fat, but the majority of people recover relatively quickly;
- Sclerotherapy: Sclerotherapy is the most common method of removing varicose veins –though it is more commonly associated with the removal of spider veins. Sclerotherapy involves injecting a chemical into the vein directly, which causes the vein to essentially collapse. This allows the walls of the veins to seal together so that blood doesn’t flow through it anymore.Sclerotherapy may require patients to wear bandages to compress the veins, ensuring that they remain collapsed as the sclerotic process takes place. Patients often experience slight bruising after the procedure, and may even develop a brown pigmentation on the surface of the skin. Moreover, it may also produce inflammation or skin ulcers, but these are usually temporary side effects of sclerotherapy. After surgery, the varicose veins fade, and even disappears entirely, over time;
- Another, less common, method is electrodessication. This procedure seals the varicose veins using an electrical current, employing laser therapy to completely destroy the veins.
Despite a number of procedures which are available to remove varicose veins, there is a propensity for the veins to regrow over time. This may result in an enlargement of the affected vein, or it may produce entirely new varicose veins in other areas of the legs. For people suffering with the discomforts of varicose veins, it is a condition that may require ongoing, long-term treatment to effectively manage the symptoms and appearance of the veins.
If you are confident that laser vein therapy or other surgeries outlined above can help you manage and remove your leg veins, feel free to speak to one of our experienced specialists at a Melbourne or Geelong Cosmetic & Laser Medical Centre for further consultation and advice.