Everyone knows that varicose veins are unsightly, but not many people know that they can also be medically dangerous. If you’ve been hesitant to get your varicose veins treated because you think treatments are only aesthetic, know that untreated varicose veins can lead to health complications. Dr. Charles Hunt of Alabama Vein & Restoration MedSpa, with several locations around Alabama, recommends getting your varicose veins treated before any problems arise. The added bonus is that you get to enjoy smooth skin, too!
Why do varicose veins appear?
If you have varicose veins, you know the red or purple lines can appear extremely swollen, twisted, discolored, and otherwise unaesthetic. But why exactly do veins get that way?
Varicose veins occur when the valves that prevent your blood from flowing backward in your circulatory system become weakened or damaged. These faulty valves allow blood to flow in the wrong direction (away from your heart), and it pools up around the valve, causing the bulge.
You might develop varicose veins due to genetically weak vein valves, vein disorders, high or consistent pressure on your legs (such as from being overweight), or from sitting for long periods of time.
Age and sex largely affect your susceptibility to varicose veins — women and older people are more like to develop them. Pregnancy is also a risk factor for varicose veins because pregnant women experience an increase in blood volume, as well as weight, both of which can lead to stretched and twisted veins.
Are varicose veins dangerous?
Most patients with varicose veins don’t experience medical complications from the condition. However, varicose veins have been linked to some health complications, including ulcers, sores, blood clots, and bleeding (which is considered a medical emergency — contact Dr. Hunt right away if you start bleeding from a varicose vein).
In more serious cases, untreated varicose veins can lead to deep vein thrombosis, a condition in which a blood clot forms deep within a vein, usually in the legs or pelvic area. Deep vein thrombosis can lead to poor circulation and issues with organs and tissues that aren’t receiving the blood supply they need, and the clots can break free and travel to the lungs, where they become life-threatening.
Treatment options for varicose veins
Dr. Hunt knows just how dangerous varicose veins can be, so he offers a multitude of treatment options to suit patients of all backgrounds and health statuses. Below are a few of the most common.
Sclerotherapy: Often considered the treatment of choice for small varicose veins, sclerotherapy involves injecting a solution into your veins. This solution causes the damaged vein to scar and collapse, which reroutes blood through nearby, healthier veins.
Ultrasound-guided foam sclerotherapy: This is a more advanced form of sclerotherapy that uses a foam-based solution that can be tracked with ultrasound imaging, so it is more accurate and often more effective.
Veinwave Thermocoagulation: Dr. Hunt uses this system mainly to treat small veins on the face. It’s a noninvasive procedure that involves needle-based delivery of heat to your damaged veins, closing them to blood flow.
Varithena®: Varithena is another foam sclerosant that Dr. Hunt injects into your problem veins. The foam fills the affected vein, causing it to eventually collapse. The foam then deactivates and blood reroutes to healthy veins.
Compression hose therapy: This is a fancy way of referring to compression socks. If your varicose veins aren’t severe, custom, prescription compression garments may do the trick.