Maybe you first noticed them last year and hoped they would go away. They appeared as small corded sections of red or blue, just beneath the surface of your skin on your calf. Now you are wondering, are varicose veins dangerous? Before you get nervous, take a few minutes to learn from Coastal Vein Care in Corona Del Mar, CA about varicose veins and how you can keep them at bay.
5 Things You Should Know About Varicose Veins
1. What Are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins occur in superficial, or surface, veins. While the most common location for varicose veins to appear is the lower legs, they can develop in other parts of the body. They may appear like a small section of bunched or bulging cord. This is the outline of the damaged vein wall. Because they are filled with stagnant blood, they usually appear blue or purple.
Many people find them embarrassing and seek treatment. But they can be more than a cosmetic challenge. For most people, varicose veins will not present any symptoms other than their appearance. However, they can cause inflammation in the surrounding area, which can make them quite painful. You may also notice some changes in the skin around the affected vein.
2. What Causes Them to Form?
There are several factors that can lead to varicose veins. These may occur on their own or in combination with each other.
Faulty or Weak Valves
Probably the most common cause of varicose veins is when a valve fails to stop blood from flowing backward in your vein. This may be because it is worn out or weakened, or it may have been faulty to begin with. There are valves located throughout the length of our veins that act as backstops. Blood can flow in one direction but cannot reverse course and go backward. When something is wrong with one or more of those valves, blood may be able to flow backward slightly between heartbeats.
Even a small amount of backward flow can create pools of stagnant blood. In surface veins, these usually appear as varicose veins or small spider veins. As the pressure increases inside your veins from the extra blood, the vein walls can become distorted or bulging, which results in the corded, rope-like appearance of varicose veins.
Thin Vein Walls
Another of those causes is thin vein walls. Since your veins are designed to carry blood back to the heart to be re-oxygenated, they are not designed to withstand large amounts of pressure. Consequently, they have relatively thin walls in comparison to your arteries.
Sometimes, those thinner areas stretch under the normal flow of blood, causing the appearance of varicose veins. This is especially common in conjunction with high blood pressure or excessive weight.
Excessive Straining or Pressure
Sometimes, excessive straining or pressure can cause varicose veins. This is commonly seen as a contributing factor to hemorrhoid development. It is also why you are more likely to develop the condition if you are overweight.
3. Are Varicose Veins Dangerous?
It can be easy to dismiss concerns about varicose veins as being caused by vanity, and they do present as a major cosmetic problem for many people. But that is not the only thing you should keep an eye out for when it comes to varicose veins. Varicose veins are generally not considered dangerous by themselves. However, they can be an indication of your likeliness to develop other, more serious, venous disorders in the future.
They may also be a warning sign of a more serious problem in deeper veins that has not been detected. If you have been asking yourself, “Are varicose veins dangerous?” now is the time to stop wondering. Here are several warning signs that your varicose veins may be a sign of a more serious issue. If any of these situations apply to you, contact the staff at Coastal Vein Care to discuss diagnostic and treatment options:
You Have Been Experiencing Persistent Leg Pain
This is a potential sign of damage deeper inside your leg. You could be suffering from deep vein thrombosis or a blood clot, both of which are potentially serious conditions.
You Are Pregnant
Your blood volume will increase during pregnancy. This can lead to elevated blood pressure, which puts additional strain on your veins. If you are pregnant and notice varicose veins forming, you should talk to your doctor. While many treatments cannot be performed during pregnancy, vein abnormalities should be examined and the cause determined. This is especially true if you are expecting after already having complications like high blood pressure during a previous pregnancy.
Your Legs Feel Weak or Heavy at the End of the Day
While it isn’t out of the ordinary for your legs or feet to feel tired after you’ve been on them all day, it shouldn’t be a regular event. If you feel like your legs are too heavy to move or slightly cumbersome at the end of the day or after standing for a prolonged period, it could be a sign of a blood clot or other venous disorder. You should seek medical care.
There Is Swelling or Pain in Only One Leg
Problems like pain or inflammation that occurs in only one leg could be cause for concern. In the absence of a known injury, this might be a sign of poor or impeded circulation in that leg. You may have a blood clot that has gone undetected, which could lead to serious complications.
You Notice Dry, Itchy Spots Near the Affected Area
When the circulation to your skin is disrupted or reduced, it can cause dry and itchy patches to develop. You are most likely to notice these on your ankles or around your feet. That is because blood has to travel the furthest to get to your extremities and damage from varicose veins can disrupt that flow. If using a moisturizing product and proper foot care does not alleviate the symptoms, it is worth investigating if there is a more serious problem.
Your High Blood Pressure Is Uncontrolled
Are varicose veins dangerous? Maybe not terribly so, but they can be a symptom of something far more serious, like high blood pressure. Varicose veins are sometimes caused by high blood pressure. The vein walls are relatively thin and are not designed to withstand high pressure. If you have uncontrolled blood pressure and have noticed varicose veins appearing on your skin, you should work to get it under control.
Sores on Your Legs or Feet Take a Long Time To Heal
While sores that resist healing are most commonly associated with diabetes, they can also be a sign of compromised circulation. Talk to a vascular specialist about diagnostic tests that can determine if a vein is causing the issue.
You Have a Family History of Venous Disease
Genetics plays a big factor in whether or not you will develop varicose veins and other, potentially more serious, venous disorders. If you don’t know your family’s medical history, the appearance of varicose veins marks a great time to find out more about it.
4. Can They Be Prevented?
Some people are more likely than others to develop varicose veins. For example, if you have a family history of the condition or a previous diagnosis of a different vascular disorder you may be at higher risk. However, that does not mean you are guaranteed to develop varicose veins. Even if every member of your family had them, there are steps you can take to reduce your chances.
Exercise is a great way to minimize your chances of developing varicose veins. In fact, just moving around and not standing in one place is one of the easiest preventative measures you can take. When you stand in one place as opposed to walking or moving around, the blood pools in your legs. Pooling blood can be a contributing factor in varicose veins.
Standing while in motion or during exercise from simply standing still. It encourages improved circulation and cardiovascular health. That is why exercising regularly a great way to reduce your chances of developing varicose veins. Not only that, but it can also help you maintain a healthy weight and promotes a healthy heart and circulatory system, which helps reduce the need for varicose vein treatment.
Elevate Your Feet
Sitting with your feet suspended can also cause blood to pool. If you have to sit in one place for extended periods of time, like at an office desk while you are working, elevating your feet may help. It is an important preventative measure if you have noticed swelling in your feet or ankles. However, if that swelling persists, or if your varicose veins are causing discomfort, then you should consult a medical professional.
You can also try wearing compression socks to help improve the circulation in your legs. Thanks in large part to a growing awareness of vascular disorders and compromised circulation when standing for extended periods, compression stockings have gotten a lot more fashionable. You can find them in fun colors and prints that coordinate easily with nearly any type of clothing you might want to wear.
Smoking is generally bad for your health. It can also contribute to decreased cardiovascular function. If you are not a smoker, don’t start. If you currently smoke, take steps to cut back and eventually quit.
5. What Treatment Options Are Available?
At Coastal Vein Care, residents of Newport Beach can get treatment for their varicose veins using the most up-to-date and technologically advanced options. Which one is right for you will depend largely on the location and size of your damaged veins. The invasiveness of each varies, so you are sure to find a treatment option among these that will suit your comfort level.
Sclerotherapy is a tried and true treatment that has been around for nearly a century. It can be safely performed on most people and is effective at treating spider and smaller varicose veins. Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) delivers heat to the inside of your veins by way of radiofrequency waves. It causes irritation that results in scarring and closure of your veins.
VenaSeal Vein Closure is a special type of ablation that uses a medical-grade adhesive to seal off unhealthy veins. No matter what treatment you decide to pursue, the affected vein will close itself off and slowly dissolve, getting absorbed by the surrounding tissue. Your blood flow will be diverted to a nearby healthy vein, and your varicose veins will be gone. Once treated, varicose veins do not reappear.
Learn More About Varicose Veins
Varicose veins can be a sign of serious medical issues. If you have noticed them forming on your legs or another area, contact the Coastal Vein Care in Corona Del Mar, CA to schedule an initial consultation.