How do you know if you’re getting varicose veins? Most people don’t recognise the early-stage symptoms, but if you do catch them early and get them treated, you could save yourself a lot of discomfort and protect yourself from developing more serious complications such as bleeding and blood clots.
What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are distinguishable swollen and enlarged veins that usually occur on the legs and feet. They are often lumpy, bulging or twisted in appearance, and are a blue or dark purple colour.
What causes varicose veins?
Varicose veins occur when the vein walls lose their elasticity, causing the one-way valves that push blood up to your heart to stop working properly. Blood then pools in the damaged vein and pressure builds, which is why the veins appear swollen. Medical professionals do not yet fully understand why this happens, but they do know that there are certain risk factors, including:
Age – ageing causes wear and tear on the valves in the veins that help control blood flow.
Sex – women are more likely to develop varicose veins than men.
Pregnancy – during pregnancy, the blood volume in the body increases, also increasing your risk of developing varicose veins.
Family history – if varicose veins run in your family, you could be more at risk.
Early – stage varicose vein symptoms
If you experience any of the symptoms listed below, it could be an early indication that you have varicose veins.
An achy or heavy feeling in the legs
A burning and throbbing sensation
Itching around one or more of the veins
Changes in skin colour around a varicose vein
Muscle cramping and swelling in the lower legs
Pain after standing for a long time
How to relieve symptoms of varicose veins
There are a lot of home and lifestyle remedies that you can integrate into your everyday life in order to relieve some of the symptoms of varicose veins.
Taking regular light exercise helps to improve your circulation and tone your muscles, which combats the symptoms of varicose veins and improves vein health. Safe forms of exercise include yoga, pilates, walking and swimming.
Manage your weight
Being overweight can put a huge amount of pressure on your veins. If you are experiencing varicose vein symptoms, it can help to lose the extra pounds and maintain a healthy weight.
A major contributing factor to varicose veins is high blood pressure, and a major cause of high blood pressure is salt. This is because the sodium found in salt can cause the body to retain water, causing blood volume to rise.
Avoid long periods of sitting or standing
Sitting for long periods of time can lead to poor circulation in your legs as your veins are forced to work a lot harder in order to move blood to your heart. In turn, this can put you at greater risk of developing venous conditions such as blood clots, deep vein thrombosis and varicose veins.
Diagnosis and treatment
When it comes to treating varicose veins, early diagnosis and treatment are integral to a successful outcome. For this reason, it is important to see a specialist venous consultant surgeon when you seek treatment. Many general medical professionals offer varicose vein treatments but they lack the qualifications, skills and experience to:
Make the most accurate diagnosis
Propose the most effective treatment plan
Perform specialist procedures well
Provide the best aftercare and any necessary follow-up treatment.
Early diagnosis generally leads to walk-in-walk-out procedures that are minimally invasive, performed under general anaesthetic and have short recovery times. It is rare that a patient with early-stage varicose vein symptoms will need more complex surgical procedures such as ligation and stripping.
The Premier Veins approach to diagnosing and treating varicose veins
This technique delivers radiofrequency energy to the vein wall through a thin tube which is inserted into the vein above or below the knee. The vein wall collapses and seals shut, and the flow of blood is redirected to other healthy veins.
Ultrasound-guided foam sclerotherapy
For this procedure, the surgeon injects a chemical foam into the affected vein to damage the lining and cause the vein to close off.
Microsclerotherapy is the procedure of choice for small reticular veins and spider (thread) veins, which are often associated with varicose veins. It works on the same principle as foam sclerotherapy, but uses liquid instead of foam. The veins close off and are absorbed back into the body naturally.
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