We want our legs to stay healthy and beautiful. Unfortunately, they won’t if you have varicose or spider veins. It’s important to realise that such changes are not only aesthetic defects. It’s a sign that the blood vessels are malfunctioning. Start treating them now, instead of concealing them under your clothes.
Varicose and spider veins are caused by the decreased flexibility and durability of the blood vessels that transport blood to the heart. “When the blood vessel valves lose tightness, blood circulation is distorted and the blood retracts to the lower extremities, pressing against vessel walls harder and harder. As a result, vessels expand permanently. This is called chronic venous insufficiency and leads to varicose veins,” explains Professor Maciej Kielar from the Medicover Hospital. What factors contribute to the development of this condition?
Inactivity is your enemy
One of the main reasons why we develop varicose and spider veins is a congenital weakness of the structure of our blood vessels. However, genes are not always to blame. Sometimes it’s us who are to blame. This is especially true for people who don’t eat properly, are physically inactive, or have a sedentary lifestyle. This is a recipe for obesity, which overloads the calves and feet due to the extra pounds that they need to carry. A concentration of fat in the abdominal area increases pressure on the abdominal cavity. As a result, less blood passes through the vessels, which starts pooling in the lower extremities.
People who work for long hours standing up often need to deal with varicose veins. “The muscles of the feet and calves work as a pump, which helps blood get to the heart. When you’re standing motionless, blood pools in the vessels in your legs,” explains Marek Witkowski, M.D., Ph.D., a surgeon from the Medicover Hospital. “Sedentary jobs area also problematic. Legs rest on the floor for many hours and are bent in the knee and hip joints, which makes blood circulation less effective,” he adds. Taking hot baths frequently, wearing excessively tight clothes, pregnancy, certain drugs and diseases such as diabetes, posture defects, and flat feet are factors that contribute to the bursting of vessels and varicose vein formation.
It all starts with heavy legs
Visible varicose veins, which look like bulging and twisted veins, are a sign that the condition is at an advanced stage. The body sends alarming signals earlier that should prompt us to visit a doctor. “First of all, we should not ignore so-called spider veins, which are expanded capillaries under the skin,” emphasises Marek Witkowski, M.D., Ph.D. “It is also important to pay attention to other symptoms, such as the sensation of “heavy” legs, numbness, burning, and limb fatigue as well as itchy skin,” he adds. If you notice these symptoms, see a doctor as soon as possible. The quicker your reaction, the more effective the treatment.
There is a way
The particular therapy is decided on individually, and the choice depends on how serious the condition is. One of the latest treatment methods is radiofrequency ablation (RFA), which is used to treat varicose veins and close spider veins and minor vein dilations. “During the procedure, we puncture the saphenous vein, insert a special probe, and coagulate the vein under ultrasound guidance, which means we tighten it by exposing it to high temperatures. The entire procedure takes a dozen or so minutes and is performed under anaesthesia,” explains Professor Maciej Kielar. Laser therapy is also used to treat varicose veins (especially large ones), in which the vein is coagulated from the inside with a laser beam.
The doctor may also recommend sclerotherapy in the treatment of dilated veins, or as an additional treatment after RFA or laser therapy. “The procedure involves administering a drug to the inside of the malformed vessel to destroy it in a controlled manner, causing fibrosis or complete degradation,” explains Marek Witkowski, M.D., Ph.D. Certain drugs in the form of an ointment or gel for external application or in the form of oral tablets or drops are also used to support the treatment process. Pharmacological agents strengthen and seal up blood vessel walls and have an anti-inflammatory effect, which allows the severity of symptoms to be reduced and slows down the progression of the condition. Special varicose vein tights and elastic bandages can also be helpful.
According to the statistical data, every other human suffers from varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency. Fortunately, this issue can be dealt with by undergoing special treatment. There’s no reason to be afraid, as modern methods are very effective and allow you to avoid pain or ugly scars.