Do you have varicose veins?
Varicose veins are a common condition affecting both men and women, particularly from middle age. While genetics, obesity, and standing for long periods in the workplace all play a role in developing the condition, women will develop the problem more often than men, thanks in part to hormones and pregnancy.
While many cases of varicose veins are quite mild, they can result in swollen, twisted, unsightly veins that are blue, purple, or reddish in colour and tend to bulge under the skin, and they are easy to identify when present in the legs.
The condition results from the combination of weaknesses in the vein structure and the effects of gravity, causing blood to flow backwards and pool in the legs (particularly in the ankles) and, while this type of vein disease can occur anywhere in the body, it’s most common in the legs.
Are Varicose Veins Dangerous?
For most people, varicose veins are not a significant cause for concern, and their impact is predominantly cosmetic. They may, however, cause symptoms which include:
- Heaviness or fatigue of the leg/s
- Aching or throbbing
- Burning or itching
- Muscle cramps
- Pain if sitting or standing for prolonged periods
- Irritated, dry skin over the vein
Complications from varicose veins are rare, but they may occur, especially if the condition worsens. These potential complications include:
- Minor bleeding/bruising
- Blood clots within the veins (thrombophlebitis – this happens when inflammation in the vein causes a blood clot to form. It may resolve on its own over a week or two and can cause hardening of the vein that lasts much longer)
- Skin ulcers near/overlying the veins
- Skin infections
People with varicose veins have a higher risk of developing serious health complications, including:
- Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) – a blood clot develops in a deeper vein in the thigh or calf. Symptoms of a DVT and for which you should seek medical attention promptly include:
- Bleeding veins (unexplained bruising over or near the vein is a sign of this)
- Veins feel hot or are painful
- Persistent swelling or pain
- Sores, ulcers, or darker patches of skin over the vein
- Pulmonary Embolism (PE) – an embolism occurs when part of a blood clot breaks off and travels through the body. A pulmonary embolism is an embolism that has travelled to the lungs, and it is a life-threatening situation if this occurs. Symptoms of pulmonary embolism (which require urgent care) include:
- Shortness of breath – CALL 000 IMMEDIATELY
- Chest pain
- Lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting
- Irregular heart rate or rapid pulse
- Coughing up blood
What to do About Varicose Veins
Unless your varicose veins are severe or causing distressing symptoms, they do not generally require treatment. You do need to be aware, however, that untreated vein disease can get worse, and the risks of complications may increase.
- If you develop varicose veins during pregnancy, know that they may improve or resolve on their own after you give birth.
- Compression stockings (fitted professionally) can be a very effective, conservative management option for mild to moderate vein disease. Wearing them during the day can help relieve symptoms, as well as improve how your leg muscles and veins function, especially if you are standing or sitting for long periods (like when working or travelling). They may be prescribed by your doctor or purchased over the counter in a pharmacy; make sure if you purchase them without a prescription that the pharmacist measures your legs and provides you with the correct fit.
- There are numerous self-care measures that you can implement to relieve the discomfort of varicose veins and help prevent them from worsening. These include:
- Elevating your legs whenever you can
- Taking regular exercise (e.g. a walk around the block)
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Don’t wear high heels
- Adopt a healthy diet and cut back on salt
- Avoid wearing tight clothing
There are several signs you should have your varicose veins treated. Your best course of action is to seek a consultation with our expert vein specialist at Crows Nest Vein Clinic for a professional medical assessment and the optimal treatment plan going forward for the best medical and cosmetic results.
Understand, too, that you need not be experiencing detrimental symptoms or have severe vein disease to have your veins treated – many people elect to have treatment early for great cosmetic outcomes and to prevent the condition from worsening.
Contact Crows Nest Vein Clinic
Dr Nicole James has a solid training background in vascular surgery both in Australia and the UK, and as our expert vein specialist here at Crows Nest Vein Clinic, she is a caring, compassionate doctor who is committed to achieving the best health and cosmetic outcomes for her patients.
At Crows Nest Vein Clinic, we offer world-standard, minimally invasive vein treatment techniques to get the outstanding results you seek without undergoing major surgery.
As an essential medical service, we are open as usual and complaint with all NSW Health COVID-19 guidelines.
Contact us now to book an obligation-free consultation to discuss spider vein removal.
Call (02) 9906 1555 or email [email protected].