Varicose veins are the enlarged and swollen veins that are prominently visible on the skin surface. These bluish-purple veins usually occur on the legs and feet but can also develop on the arms and face.
Varicose veins occur due to malfunctioning valves that restrict the flow of the deoxygenated blood back to the heart. This results in excessive blood pooling and increased pressure in the affected area.
As per the reports of numerous medical studies, it has been cited that women are more likely to develop varicose veins than their male counterparts. The risk of developing varicose veins also increases with the growing age.
People who have a family history of a venous disorder or those who are obese and have a sedentary lifestyle are at a comparatively higher risk. Other risk factors of varicose veins include pregnancy, smoking, hormone therapy, and any medical history of a blood clot.
It has also been noted that people who have a job that requires them to sit or stand for long durations at a stretch have a greater chance of developing varicose veins at a much younger age.
In a few cases, varicose veins do not produce any symptoms. For most other people, varicose veins are accompanied by pain and severe swelling in the affected area. Patients also experience itching and a throbbing sensation along with a feeling of heaviness.
Skin discoloration (venous eczema) is another prevalent sign of varicose veins. Patients also complain of immense pain after sitting or standing for a long time. RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome) is also commonly reported in varicose veins patients.
Delay or lack in treatment is known to worsen the symptoms and lead to the formation of difficult-to-heal leg ulcers and chronic venous insufficiency. In some extreme cases, blood clots are likely to develop in the deep veins. This condition is known as Deep Vein Thrombosis. Treatment is essential to prevent other life-threatening medical conditions.
The vascular expert will begin the medical check-up with a physical examination. He/she will check for the presence of any swollen or enlarged veins in the affected area. The doctor will also ask you to describe the pain, discomfort, and other symptoms that you may be experiencing.
As varicose veins are known to be a genetic disorder, the doctor is likely to question you about the medical history of your family and any past incidence of a blood clot. Always share the correct medical details with your vascular expert.
In most cases, the doctor will ask you to undergo a colour doppler examination which is similar to an X-Ray scan. This helps the doctor to look closely at the malfunctioning valves and check for the presence of blood clots.
Endovenous Laser Ablation
The painless and minimally invasive treatment for varicose veins is now possible with the help of laser technology! This process is called the endovenous laser ablation technique.
In this procedure, a small cut is made on the skin surface. From this tiny cut, a catheter and a laser fibre is inserted into the affected area. The heat from the laser fibre is then used to close off the damaged veins.
The body re-absorbs the damaged veins and automatically re-routes the blood to the neighboring healthier veins. The laser removal of varicose veins is performed as an outpatient procedure and there is no need for the patient to get hospitalized.
It is a safe procedure that is performed with local anesthesia. It does not require general anesthesia. There is only a minimal chance of any side-effects or recurrence of varicose veins.