Varicose veins are enlarged, twisted veins that typically appear swollen and raised with a bluish-purple or red color. Veins may begin as just a cosmetic concern – they usually develop in the legs and can be seen through the skin, making those who have them very self-conscious. Over time, however, varicose veins may cause significant discomfort and aching pain.
Veins that aren’t functioning properly are at fault. Healthy veins have one-way valves that allow blood to travel toward the heart and prevent blood from flowing backward. Damaged valves will cause blood to pool in the veins rather than recirculate to the heart. Veins will then enlarge as the result of the build-up, leading to venous disease. Specifically “venous hypertension” which may lead to a chronic inflammation of the skin known as “stasis dermatitis” which then may lead to a breakdown of the skin after minor trauma leading to a skin ulcer that does not heal.
And why are veins more common in the legs? Veins that are the furthest from the heart will need to work against gravity. Cosmetic Laser Dermatology’s director, Mitchel P. Goldman, MD, in San Diego, has authored several textbooks on varicose vein treatments and is known as the godfather of sclerotherapy and endovenous varicose vein treatment, considered the gold-standard treatment for varicose veins.
Who Is Most Likely To Get Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins develop more often in women than in men. Leg veins increase in frequency with age. Up to 60% of men and women over the age of 60 suffer from varicose veins, and it is estimated that 1 in 3 Americans have venous disease.
What Are The Symptoms?
Those with varicose veins complain of pain described as cramping or aching over or around the enlarged veins. Other symptoms include highly visible veins, swelling, itching, heaviness, dermatitis of the skin around the veins and even restless legs (while sleeping).
What Are The Causes?
It is estimated that 1 in 5 adults have varicose veins. A number of risk factors predispose a person to leg veins. These include:
- Heredity – 50% of those with a family history of varicose veins will develop vein disease.
- Age – The risk of developing vein disease increases with time. The wear and tear of valves may cause blood to flow back into the veins, causing build-up instead of flowing up to the heart.
- Trauma – a leg injury may damage the valves.
- Prolonged sitting or standing – a sedentary position inhibits proper blood circulation.
- Tight clothing – tight clothes may put too much pressure on the body and constrict blood flow.
- High heels – the higher the shoe, the more minimized the full range of motion of the calf muscles when walking. Low-heeled shoes work the calf muscles more, which is better for blood flow.
- Birth control and/or estrogen replacement therapy– hormones may play a role in the appearance of varicose veins.
- Pregnancy – aside from hormonal changes, the volume of blood increases during pregnancy while the rate at which blood flows from the legs to the pelvis decreases.
- Constipation – any condition that puts excessive pressure on the abdomen or legs can lead to varicose veins.
How Are They Treated?
It is the goal of varicose vein treatments to close or eliminate the culprit veins in order to allow blood to divert through healthy veins and improve circulation. Fortunately, vein treatments do not mean a hospital stay along with a lengthy, uncomfortable recovery period. Thanks to minimally invasive procedures, varicose veins can be treated between 15-30 minutes in the comfort of our La Jolla office. Patients may resume regular activities immediately and will wear graduated compression stockings for 7 days after treatment.
This vein treatment involves injecting chemicals, known as sclerosing solutions into damaged veins. It requires no pain medication and over time, veins will fade from view. Multiple sessions are usually required to achieve optimal results. The veins disappear during the treatment and then you wear compression garments to ensure they do not come back.
This technique invented by our own Dr. Goldman uses a special laser fiber (coupled with an infrared 1320 nm wavelength device) to treat unwanted veins. The CTEV targets water within the walls of the veins instead of red blood cell hemoglobin. With a 99% success rate, CTEV is less invasive, provides increased patient comfort, and results in faster healing time. This treatment has essentially eliminated the need for the old ligation and stripping surgical procedure.
After infiltrating local anesthesia, the surgeon will utilize ambulatory phlebectomy to create tiny incisions to remove superficial veins. This effectively treats bulging varicose veins and will leave minimal or no scarring. No stitches are needed to close the opening as they are tiny.
Post-treatment we recommend that graduated compression stockings be worn 24 hours a day (yes that means you even shower and sleep in them) for 7 days. Patients can take ibuprofen for mild post-procedure pain and inflammation. It is also encouraged to walk each day in order to speed recovery. These stockings steadily put pressure on the legs, helping veins promote blood to flow more efficiently.
The Benefit of Vein Treatments
Having veins treated can get rid of any pain or swelling, thereby helping the patient become more active.
Reduced Pain And Inflammation
Varicose veins can cause pain which can get worse over time. By removing varicose veins at the source, pain is eliminated as well.
Patients feel better about their appearance after a vein removal treatment. Clothing options won’t be limited anymore, helping improve one’s self-confidence.
What Is The Difference Between Varicose And Spider Veins?
Varicose veins are large, twisted, and dilated blood vessels that appear as swollen clusters of purple or blue veins the size of your finger. Spider veins are similar to varicose veins but are smaller, are often red or blue, are fed by larger reticular veins, and found closer to the skin’s surface and can be as small as a hair.
What Are Some Myths About Varicose Veins?
MYTH: Pregnancy causes varicose veins.
FACT: Pregnancy may aggravate, but not cause varicose veins. Varicose veins that become visible during pregnancy usually fade after delivery.
MYTH: Crossing legs causes varicose veins.
FACT: Crossing legs may aggravate, but not cause varicose veins. While increased pressure can cause blood to collect inside a vein and make it enlarged, it is not external pressure that does it, but the weakened valves and vein walls.
MYTH: Varicose veins only occur in the legs.
FACT: Varicose veins may commonly appear in the legs, but also occur in other locations, including the pelvis.
MYTH: Varicose veins may go away on their own over time.
FACT: Varicose veins only get better after pregnancy. Untreated veins generally get worse, therefore, those with varicose veins will benefit from having early treatment.
Safely And Effectively Eliminate Varicose Veins Without Surgery
The team of highly-skilled, board-certified dermatologists at Cosmetic Laser Dermatology in San Diego are experts in varicose vein removal and are considered leaders in the industry. Call (858) 943-2113 today to find out more about our vein removal treatments.