Varicose Veins: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Varicose veins are very common and can often be painful and cause discomfort. It is estimated around 20 percent of all adults will develop varicose veins in their lives, with women more likely to experience the condition than men. Here we look at the causes and symptoms associated with varicose veins, as well as surgical and non-surgical ways to treat them.

man holding leg with varicose veins

Varicose veins can occur when your veins become enlarged, dilated, and overfilled with blood. Varicose veins typically appear as bulging, twisted clusters and typically consist of dark blue or dark purple veins.

People with varicose veins can develop them anywhere. However, in most cases, they appear on the lower legs, particularly on the calves, or in the pelvic area.

Varicose veins are sometimes surrounded by thin, red capillaries known as spider veins, which are a group of tiny blood vessels located close to the surface of the skin.

At West Medical we are the premier provider of varicose vein treatment in Southern California, with locations in the greater Los Angeles area including Tarzana, Long Beach, Irvine and Rancho Cucamonga. Our expert team works with patients to ascertain the cause of varicose veins. They can analyze symptoms and then create the best treatment plan to alleviate the condition.

What Causes Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins can develop when there is a blood build-up in your superficial veins. The reason this can happen is that the walls of the veins and valves become weakened.

Varicose veins typically develop most often in your legs because those veins are the farthest from your heart. The nature of gravity means it is harder for the blood to flow upward.

Patients can develop the condition when they stand for long periods, or if they are sitting or standing in the same position for a long time without including any leg muscle activation. Sitting with crossed legs can also exacerbate the condition.

Other causes can include:

  • Birth control pills

  • Post-menopausal hormonal replacement therapy

  • A history of blood clots

  • Injury to the veins

  • Conditions that cause increased pressure in the abdomen such as liver disease, fluid in the abdomen, previous groin surgery, or heart failure

  • Tobacco use

Why Would You Be More at Risk for Varicose Veins?

Typically patients who are older in age and usually over 50 can develop varicose veins. There could also be a genetic condition in your family making you predisposed to developing varicose vein symptoms.

Being very overweight can also cause you to develop varicose veins, or you could have vascular disease, or blood vessel disease like deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Women can also develop varicose veins when they are pregnant which is thought to be due to hormone-related changes as well as weight gain. However, these types of varicose veins often disappear after the baby has been born.

What Are the Symptoms of Varicose Veins?

The symptoms of varicose veins include highly visible, misshapen veins typically on your legs. You may also have a feeling of heaviness, pain, or achiness around your enlarged veins.

Side effects of varicose veins can also include color changes in your lower leg. You may develop sores on your legs or a rash. Some patients can experience burning or throbbing in their legs, or can also have swollen ankles and swollen feet. Dry, itching skin and muscle cramps can also occur.

Patients who come to see one of our vein treatment specialists at West Medical may also have developed swelling and discoloration. There can be risk factors associated with varicose veins. When you have a long-term issue with varicose veins you may develop a blood clot, experience bleeding, or a leg ulcer can form.

Treatment Options for Varicose Veins

When you have treatment for varicose veins there are a variety of non-surgical and surgical treatments you can consider.

Lifestyle Changes

Initially, changes in lifestyle can help with varicose vein treatment. You can avoid standing and sitting for long periods of time and try to elevate your legs when you are resting or sleeping. Exercise, particularly walking, can also help to ease varicose veins as well as prevent the condition from getting worse and more veins appearing.

If you are overweight, going on a monitored, healthy weight loss program can help. By doing so, you can ease the pressure on your legs from the extra weight you may be carrying.

Dietary changes, including cutting back on salt, which can constrict blood flow, can also help with varicose vein symptoms. In fact, 3.8 grams of salt can reduce the ability of blood vessels to widen after a meal, when compared with a lower salt meal.

Clothing Changes

Wearing good-fitting footwear and avoiding tight clothing can also assist with regular blood flow through your legs.

Compression therapy involves wearing compression socks or stockings to provide pressure to the veins in your lower legs. By doing so, you can enhance blood flow and reduce the risk of developing new varicose or spider veins.

At West Medical we offer consultations around compression therapy.

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If lifestyle changes are not working to heal your varicose veins, you should consider having surgical treatment to alleviate your symptoms.

Surgical Treatments

There are a number of different surgical treatments you can consider to ease the symptoms of your varicose veins.

Sclerotherapy

Sclerotherapy is when a solution is injected into the varicose vein causing it to collapse. Blood is then rerouted through healthy veins.

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Microphlebectomy

A microphlebectomy is considered a minimally invasive procedure that can treat your varicose veins using ultrasound and incisions to pinpoint the vein and remove it.

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Radiofrequency Ablation

Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) is a minimally invasive vein treatment that uses heat generated from radiofrequency to collapse and seal the veins.

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Endovenous Laser Therapy

Endovenous Laser Therapy (EVLT) uses laser heat therapy to treat varicose veins. The minimally invasive procedure shrinks the vein and seals it off. EVLT works particularly well if you have painful, sore, or bulging veins. Patients are also good candidates if their veins are inflamed.

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Conclusion

Varicose veins can be treated relatively easily, successfully and quickly if you get the right advice and have the right consultant.

At West Medical, we have an expert team that works with hundreds of patients to help them find freedom from their varicose vein condition. We have centers in the following locations in Southern California:

  • Long Beach

  • Rancho Cucamonga

  • Ventura

  • Bakersfield

  • Visalia

  • Chapman Global Medical Center, Orange

  • Marina del Rey

  • Culver City

  • Tarzana

  • Beverly Hills

  • Lancaster

  • Encino

  • Irvine

, or alternatively you can call us at (855) 690-0565 and speak to one of our team.

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