What is “varicose vein disease”?
It includes abnormal and unwanted veins that range in size from small purple/red “spiders” up to large and lumpy “varicose”. The legs, and occasionally the face, hands and chest, are the areas usually affected. Common complaints, besides unsightliness, include: aches, itching and burning, throbbing, tiredness, restlessness and swelling. These symptoms typically get worse towards the end of the day or after a prolonged period of standing; and, in women around menstruation and during pregnancy. Temporary relief can come from leg elevation and wearing medical support hosiery.
What causes varicose vein disease?
We don’t know. However, several risk factors play a role in developing this problem: family and/or personal history of varicose vein disease, female hormones (internally produced or taken by prescription), pregnancy, trauma, advancing age, overweightness and prolonged standing. Spider veins on the face and upper chest are often related to chronic sun exposure.
How can varicose vein disease be treated?
Contact laser useful for small veins on the face; not considered first-line treatment for leg veins. Sclerotherapy is the injection of a chemical into abnormal veins. (see below). Thermal ablation uses radio frequency or laser fibers to heat veins. (see below). Surgery for large vein problems either by removal (vein stripping or ambulatory phlebectomies) with or without tying veins off (ligation).
Can anything be done to prevent this disease?
Since the cause is unknown, no medications are available. Yet, here are some life-style changes that are helpful in limiting the disease‘s progression. They include: maintaining normal weight, participating in a regular walking routine, limiting the use of external female hormones, and wearing proper support stockings if you stand during most of the day.