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What Are Varicose Veins

What are the causes of varicose veins?
What factors increase the risk for varicose veins?
How can I prevent varicose veins?
If I develop varicose veins, how can I treat them?

Varicose veins are enlarged veins that become visible or protrude. Minor varicose veins often called "spider veins" are an aesthetic concern. Severe varicose veins can often cause aching and pain. An estimated that about 60% of Americans suffer from some form of varicose veins, although it is more common in women than men.

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What are the causes of varicose veins?

Veins send blood back to your heart for re-oxygenation. While traveling through the veins back to the heart, blood passes through small valves that prevent the blood from flowing backward. Over time, these valves become less effective and cause a backflow of blood. This is the cause of varicose veins.

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What factors increase the risk for varicose veins?

The following people have an increased risk of developing varicose veins:
  • Increased age
  • Pregnancy
  • Obesity
  • Long periods of sitting in one position
  • Constricting (tight) clothing
  • Genetic disposition to varicose veins or weak vein walls
  • Sun exposure
Note: When pregnancy is the cause of varicose veins, the symptoms usually subside 3 months after delivery.

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How can I prevent varicose veins?

There are several easy ways to prevent varicose veins from forming:
  • Wearing sunscreen
  • Exercise
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Avoid tight clothing
  • Avoid crossing your legs
  • Don't each too much salt; it helps you retain water
If you have had varicose veins previously or are starting to develop varicose veins, compression therapy are the best way to slow or stop the their development. Vitality Medical offers a variety of compression stockings from well-known companies such as Jobst, Kendall, and Mediven. Talk with your physician to find out what type of compression stocking is right for you.

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If I develop varicose veins, how can I treat them?

There are several treatments for varicose veins. Many are outpatient surgery options with varying degrees of invasiveness. These treatments include:
  • Laser surgery: Lasers are used to close of veins. Typically used for smaller veins.
  • Vein stripping: A large part of the vein is removed. Circulation is maintained by deep veins
  • Catheter procedure: A heated catheter burns away the small valves in the veins.
  • Ambulatory Phlebectomy: The skin is punctured in various spots to remove the vein.
  • Sclerotherapy: A solution is injected into the veins that closes them off. The body redirects the blood through alternate veins.
  • Endoscopic vein surgery: For serious cases only. A video camera is used to navigate the closing of veins.
Always consult with a physician before undergoing any type of treatment.

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Medline Plus - Varicose Veins
eMedicineHealth - Varicose Veins

Helpful Articles

Vein Forum - Varicose Veins or Spider Veins?
eMedicine - Chronic Venous Insufficiency
MacMillan - Controlling Lymphoedema with Compression Garments
Medicinenet - Varicose Veins & Spider Veins

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