Varicose veins are enlarged sections of superficial veins which are located just under the surface of the skin. These swollen and enlarged veins usually look blue or dark purple in colour. The condition is quite common, affecting up to three in 10 adults. Compared to men, women tend to be more affected by this skin problem. Although they can appear anywhere, they mostly occur on the legs. Varicose veins develop when blood doesn't flow properly through the veins due to the dysfunctional valves inside the veins.
In a healthy vein, blood flows to the heart is prevented from flowing backwards by several valves. When theses valves weaken or get damaged, the blood can flow backwards and collect in the vein, causing it to be swollen and enlarged. Although this can happen to anyone, pregnancy, increasing weight and ageing can increase your chances of developing varicose veins.
Varicose veins symptoms
Some people don’t develop any symptoms of varicose veins. If you do have symptoms, they may include:
- Appearance of spider veins
- Brownish-yellow shiny skin discoloration
- Lumps or bulging veins
- Aching legs
- Itchy or restless legs
- Swelling on feet and ankles
- White scar-like patches on the ankles
Varicose veins treatment
Mostly varicose veins do not pose a serious health problem. They may just look ugly and hence, bother some women. If you want to reduce the appearance of spider veins, then there are some topical treatments that can help diffuse spider veins symptoms gradually, inexpensively and conveniently.
However, if your varicose veins are causing you pain or discomfort, it is a sign that you might develop some complications. In this case, consult your doctor immediately to understand various varicose veins treatment. There are mainly two types of treatments available:Non-surgical treatments
You can wear compression stockings to help the blood in your veins flow up towards your heart. These stockings may relieve the swelling and pain in your legs.Surgical treatment
In extreme cases of varicose veins, doctors may advice surgery. Depending upon your case, you can get either of the following surgeries:
- Varicose vein surgery – Removal of any superficial veins that have become varicose veins.
- Sclerotherapy – Involves injecting a liquid that damages and closes the veins that have become swollen.
- Endovenous laser treatment – Laser is used to heat the inside of vein and damage its wall, causing the vein to close.
- Radiofrequency ablation – High frequency electrical current is used to heat the wall of varicose vein and damage it.
- Transilluminated powered phlebectomy - Special light is used for removal of the varicose vein by suction.
If you want treatment for cosmetic reasons, you will not be able to have it on the NHS; although you can always consider private treatment. NHS treatment is available if you have complications of varicose veins.