We’ve all seen them before; big, twisted and thick veins that spread up and around the legs of middle aged adults. Though you may look at varicose veins on others and think to yourself, good thing I don’t have that, in fact they affect half of all adults aged 50 and up, so don’t consider yourself excluded quite yet. A common misconception is to assume that varicose veins are mainly a problem related to women and pregnancy, when in reality, 45% of those who suffer from the condition are men.
Before the blood drains from your face, keep in mind that varicose veins are almost always simply a cosmetic issue and don’t have serious side effects. There is, however, the possibility of a bigger underlying vein disease known as deep vein thrombosis, so its better be safe and have them examined by a doctor regardless.
With age, the functions in our bodies begin deteriorating. There are different blood circuit systems in our bodies, one is controlled by deep veins and the others are superficial veins. Superficial veins are closer to the skin, which is why they are more noticeable. Within these veins, there are valves, which prevent the blood from flowing back down to our lower extremities on route back towards the heart. As the elasticity of our veins dissipates, the valves no longer work properly, and as such, blood pools at the bottom of the circulatory system – our legs – expanding them to their bulgy state.
The specific cause of varicose veins still remains unknown, though most cases are linked to heredity, and different forms of prolonged pressure on the legs, such as standing for long periods of time, pregnancy, and obesity. Once they develop, you may start to feel pain in your legs, itchiness, and swelling. Doctors are quick to diagnose patients, usually through a standard physical check. Other times they may ask for a Duplex Ultrasound.
Considering the cosmetic nature of varicose veins, doctors will first and foremost recommend certain lifestyle changes in diet and exercise, or suggest the use of compression socks. If the problem persists, other procedures such as laser treatment of sclerotherapy are available and not too expensive. Recently, many natural treatment alternatives have been documented and linked to the recovery of the veins without medical procedures, but compression socks still remain the most common solution. Here are some effective ways of dealing with varicose veins:
- COMPRESSION STOCKINGS
As mentioned above, compression stockings still remain one of the most effective treatments for varicose veins. These specially designed socks fit tightly around the ankles, and gradually loosen as they go higher up on the legs. Different levels of compression are available, and are used in accordance with regular exercise.
- EXERCISE YOUR LEGS
It’s common knowledge that exercising is incredibly beneficial for the cardiovascular system. Since varicose veins appear mostly in the legs, a primary form of fighting the condition is exercising your legs as much as possible. Leg muscles contribute to smooth blood flow, as they contract to help the veins pump properly. Walking and running can be considered high impact activities, and if the pain from the condition causes discomfort, then low impact exercises like calf raises, leg lifts and side lunges are recommended.
- CHANGES IN DIET
A visit to your local nutritionist will allow you to properly inform yourself on the necessary changes to get rid of varicose veins. Common suggestions are a mixture of calorie intake reduction, consumption of fiber rich foods and a better understanding of the vitamins that help your body circulate blood.
When decreasing calorie intake, it’s essential to remember that losing too much weight is detrimental to vein health, which means that the loss of weight can’t be too significant. Foods which contain Vitamin C such as brussel sprouts, broccoli, and a variety citrus fruits help greatly. Another important set of vitamins is the B family, especially B6, B9 and B12. Chickpeas, tuna, asparagus and fish are great sources of B vitamins.
If natural remedies have been exhausted and you’re looking for medical help in the form of procedures to rid yourself of varicose veins, then sclerotherapy is one of the most widely used and successful methods. The affected vein is injected with a sclerosing solution which is agitated with air to resemble the texture of watered down shaving cream. This mixture expands in the vein and damages its lining. The body then absorbs the vein naturally and finds other circuits to divert blood flow on its own.
Sclerotherapy is a procedure which takes around 10 minutes to complete, has minimal side effects, and a short recovery period of two weeks. During recovery, the patient must wear compression socks and walk a lot. Some cases may require multiple sclerotherapy sessions.
- LASER TREATMENT
There are a variety of Med Spas that offer this form of treatment, such as; Varicose vein removal Whittier. Laser treatment is a modern and advanced method which is virtually painless and has an excellent success rate. A highly focused ray of light or laser is pointed at the skin above the vein. The laser damages the vein, and causes it to form scar tissue. The scar tissue blocks off circulation through the vein, and similarly to sclerotherapy, the vein is absorbed naturally by the body.
Aside from the way they look, many people report pain in the areas where varicose veins appear. As such, it is understandable to want to have them removed as quickly as possible. Sclerotherapy and laser treatment are safe methods that solve the problem, however, it is always recommended to try to approach the issue with natural remedies and lifestyle changes first and foremost.
Do you have any effective treatments you’ve heard of or discovered for varicose veins? Please post your own list below!
Luca Tofan is a Canadian freelance writer living in Colombia. He likes to write about a variety of topics including travel, health, lifestyle and business.