Varicose Veins in the Legs

What is the difference between varicose veins and spider veins in the legs?

Varicose veins and spider veins are two common vein illnesses. Varicose veins typically appear around the foot or leg and look thicker than spider veins. These varicosities can be unsightly, painful, and require medical attention.

On the other hand, spider veins are much thinner, have a red or blue colour, and often go undetected because they don’t cause any pain. They usually appear on the face, chest, legs and arms, but can show up anywhere on your body – even behind your foot.

Fortunately, varicose veins can be treated by surgical procedures, while spider veins are more easily correctable through sclerotherapy or laser therapies.

So make sure to take preventative measures early if you’re at risk of varicose or spider vein development, to help keep them from getting worse later on in life.

hard working woman presneting symptoms of ache and pain from her varicose veins

What are the symptoms of varicose veins in the legs?

Varicose veins can be uncomfortable and even painful, and the symptoms can range greatly. Some individuals might only experience enlarged veins without any other symptoms or pain.

However, others people may develop varicose veins accompanied by:

  • restlessness in the legs

  • tiredness

  • a throbbing feeling, heaviness of the legs and ankles

  • aching sensations

  • tingling feelings

  • numbness in the affected area(s)

  • burning sensations in their skin

  • itching in areas of varicose veins formation

  • swelling around varicose veins and more.

mature woman with painful vaicose veins on her legs

How can I prevent varicose veins?

Living with varicose veins can be a psychological burden.

Varicose veins are highly common and deeply distressing, as they often cause pain, heaviness, and swelling of the legs.

While there is no cure to prevent varicose veins, it is still possible to reduce risks and treat varicose vein infections by leading a healthy and active lifestyle.

Vein doctors commonly advise varicose vein sufferers to:

  • wear compression stockings

  • massage the affected area regularly using castor oil or aloe vera gel

  • maintain the correct posture while standing or sitting for extended periods of time

  • do regular exercise, such as walking and swimming, that improves circulation in the legs and ankles

  • to elevate their legs when lying down or resting in order to boost blood flow away from their lower extremities.

By taking these steps, varicose vein’s symptoms can significantly be reduced.

woman presenting advance varicose vein on the back of the left leg

What causes varicose veins?

Varicose veins are a common condition in which the veins on the skin close to the surface look swollen and distorted.

They typically appear in the legs due to prolonged standing, as this causes blood to pool in the veins, resulting in increased pressure.

This extra pressure can cause the veins to stretch out, damage valve walls, and prevent them from functioning properly.

Poor varicose vein circulation has been shown to be one of the major causes for varicose veins when these valves fail or become obstructed.

What are the risk factors for varicose veins?

Varicose veins are a common vascular condition with several risk factors, such as:

  • hereditary varicose vein issues shared amongst family members

  • increased vein pressure due to obesity or being overweight

  • inactive legs

  • pregnancy

  • smoking cigarettes

  • taking contraceptive pills or receiving hormone replacement therapy.

It is rare for varicose veins to develop a DVT (deep vein thrombosis), which can be very painful and will cause the blood to clot.

Severe varicose veins have an increased risk of causing bleeding. Although these occurrences are also quite rare.

Varicose veins cause vessels close to the skin surface to bulge out and become visible. If a varicose vein does form a blood clot, it must be treated straight away for the best outcomes.

legs of a elderly man presenting varicose veins

How do you tell if you have varicose veins?

Do your legs ache and feel heavy, making it hard to stand or walk for a long time without them hurting even more?

You could be experiencing chronic venous insufficiency, a condition that affects the health of your veins.

It typically starts with an intermittent achiness in the legs, along with other symptoms such as throbbing, cramps, swelling, itching around one or more of the veins, and skin discoloration around a varicose vein.

Unfortunately, worsened pain can appear after sitting or standing for a long time, making it difficult to relax or do day to day activities.

If left untreated, this condition can worsen and lead to medical issues, such as varicose veins and even leg ulcers.

Fortunately, you can take steps to lower your risk of getting varicose veins and other leg issues associated with chronic venous insufficiency by speaking to your vein doctor about treatment options available for you.

What happens when you have varicose veins?

Varicose veins can be an unsightly and debilitating condition – appearing as lumpy, bulging or twisting veins in the legs. They not only mar people’s appearance but also cause aches and stiffness that often leave sufferers uncomfortable.

father playing with his child while experiencing symptoms of varicose veins

Can varicose veins go away?

Unfortunately, varicose veins usually don’t go away without medical treatment, but there are various ways to make them less noticeable.

With the right makeup, varicose veins can become much less obvious and uncomfortable. If you have been avoiding showing your legs or wearing shorts in summer due to varicose veins, this means there are options for you to still feel comfortable in any outfit without unneeded concealer.

So if varicose veins have been a bother in the past, take heart! Working with varicose veins doesn’t mean you can never feel good in shorts again.

How are varicose veins diagnosed?

Your vein doctor can diagnose varicose veins during a full health assessment and medical history.

A vascular ultrasound, known as Duplex ultrasound, is used to monitor veins in the legs to detect varicose veins. This type of ultrasound consists of two kinds – it uses both sound waves and Doppler technology, allowing for more detailed imaging of valves and other structures within the varicose vein.

Additionally, this approach enables clinicians to gather important data about varicose veins, such as their size and how much blood are they able to carry.

With such in-depth information, treatment options can be better planned out for varicose veins.

Woman gettign a doppler ultrasound scan to investigate her legs for varicose veins

When should I talk to my doctor about varicose veins?

While varicose veins can cause serious side effects, you need to contact your doctor.

Depending on what your condition is like, you can get treatment.

Thousands of people have a varicose vein problem. For many patients, varicose veins cause no health problem.

Lifestyle changes and home remedies may help reduce symptoms and reduce their likelihood of developing.

Talk with your vein doctor to get a thorough diagnosis and treatment plan that will prevent or minimise bruising or other symptoms from varicose veins.

leg of a man presenting advanced chronic venous disease with skin discolouration

What is the treatment for varicose veins in the legs?

Varicose veins are unsightly and can sometimes be painful.

The good news is that there are a variety of treatments available to help alleviate varicose veins.

Your vein doctor will assess your age, medical history, and other factors in order to determine the best course of action for you.

Treatments may include elevating your feet and legs several times a day. This helps reduce the pressure on varicose veins and prevent further complications.

Wearing compression hose or stockings is also recommended to keep varicose veins manageable.

If varicose veins become too severe, laser therapy and sclerotherapy may be necessary to close off painfully enlarged blood vessels or surgically remove varicose veins.

Although it may seem intimidating, there is certainly an option out there that will work for anyone with varicose veins.

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