Swollen or bulging blood vessels, known medically as varicose veins, are more common of an issue than people think. They also have the potential to be much more than a cosmetic issue, sometimes leading to blood clots or damaged skin.
This issue is misunderstood by many people and this can impede their ability to get proper treatment. Therefore it’s important to debunk the many myths surrounding varicose veins.
They are just unsightly and not a serious issue
While swollen blood vessels appearing on the skin is always a cosmetic issue, it has the potential to develop into something with dire medical consequences. It’s simply inaccurate to say that the issue is purely cosmetic.
A large proportion of sufferers will develop symptoms like aching, throbbing, heaviness, cramping and swelling in their legs. Some other symptoms come in the form of severe dryness as well as itching of the skin.
The most severe consequence of bulging blood vessel is a dangerous form of blood clotting called deep vein thrombosis. Other sufferers may experience rarer symptoms like skin thickening, skin discoloration, bleeding and the formation of ulcers.
It’s clear that while they are unsightly, many sufferers of this condition can develop rather unpleasant and even dangerous symptoms without treatment.
It only affects old people
While most commonly seen in middle aged to elderly people, varicose veins can affect young people too. Some doctors have recorded treating patients as young as 13 for the condition.
While the compounding effects of age and lifestyle can worsen the condition it is actually genetic in origin. This means that those with a genetic predisposition are destined to develop the issue at some point.
Pregnant women are very prone to developing the condition as their have less freedom of movement, more blood circulation and increased weight on their legs.
It only affects women
Although women are more affected than men, a significant amount of men (around 10-15 percent) also develop the condition at some point. This is in contrast the 25% of women who develop the condition.
They are always visible
While sufferers almost always diagnose the condition visually, varicose veins can also occur deeper in the skin where they can’t be seen by the naked eye. This is especially true for those people with a lot of fat tissue between their muscles and their skin.
It’s entirely genetic and lifestyle doesn’t matter
While being prone to the condition is genetic, it still develops because of other factors in someone’s life. Lifestyle choices like diet and exercise help to reduce obesity which is a leading cause of bulging blood vessels.
The less weight you carry, the less pressure is put on your legs. It’s also true that circulatory health is improved by changing your diet to eating more vegetables and less sugar.
Stripping is the only treatment option
In the past, the only reliable treatment for varicose veins was a procedure called stripping wherein the problem blood vessels are surgically taken out of the body. This procedure is still one of the most common treatment methods today but is considered highly invasive as it would leave scars on the patient.
Today there are more advanced, less invasive forms of treatment for this condition that don’t leave any scarring.
For example, according to Best in Au, endothermal ablation uses a fine needle to spread heat into the blood vessel, causing it to collapse. This surgery leaves no scars but can be painful and many patients require anaesthesia to carry it out.
Special medications known as sclerosing agents work to collapse a blood vessel by causing irritation. The blood vessel is then re-absorbed by the body’s tissue.
Dermatologists are able to treat less serious cases with sclerotherapy or laser therapy. Laser therapy involves using a highly precise laser to heat the blood vessel until it collapses.
More serious cases may require the services of vascular surgeons at a specialist vein clinic that specialise in treating varicose veins. Many of the best practices use special guiding technology the make the procedure as accurate as possible.