Varicose veins: why we contract them and what can we do to fight them

Many people feel uncomfortable with varicose veins and are ashamed of them. The elderly and pregnant women are more likely to develop them. However, thanks to advances in medical technology, bothersome varicose veins can now be treated in most cases.

Varicose veins appear mainly in the legs due to the nature of the body’s circulatory system. The muscles of the body contract and pump blood through the veins to the heart. The veins also help move blood, and those of the legs are far from the heart and act against gravity, so they are subject to more stress and wear than those of other parts of the body. Over time, the veins become less elastic and can stretch. In this case, the valves that have opened and closed once to prevent blood from flowing back to the veins weaken and stay open. The blood then does not flow to the heart and accumulates in the veins, which are then enlarged and visible through the skin.

A person who exercises and maintains a healthy weight reduces the likelihood of developing varicose veins. And pregnant women who buy them usually find that the symptoms go away almost completely within three months of giving birth. For people who choose to have varicose veins removed by a professional, there are a number of minimally invasive procedures available to treat these people on an outpatient basis.

A variety of laser surgeries can be used to reduce the appearance of smaller varicose veins and their even smaller relatives, the spider veins. For example, a treatment with intense pulsed light (IPL) transmits a very specific light frequency through the veins. This stimulates the production of collagen, causing the veins to gradually disappear. No incision is required and the side effects are minor.

Another minimally invasive option for the treatment of varicose veins is sclerotherapy. This procedure injects a solution into the veins which causes them to collapse. The blood is then diverted through other veins and the collapsed varicose veins disappear from sight. Sclerotherapy also reduces some of the painful symptoms such as pain and swelling.

For larger veins, a doctor may use a heated catheter or perform venous stripping. In both procedures, a small incision is made in the skin. A catheter can be inserted and heated, damaging and closing the veins. When the vein is removed, one or all of the veins are removed through the incision.

Patients with advanced varicose veins may develop complications such as leg ulcers that require more extensive surgery. One common approach is endoscopic vein extraction, in which a tiny camera is inserted through an incision in the vein. The surgeon then cuts the vein into small portions. Even then, the person undergoing the procedure can usually be outpatient.

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