For most people, the varicose vein is just a beauty concern; however, this skin ailment has a deeper health issue than it seems.
According to the National Institutes of Health, 60% of men and women are suffering from a varicose vein. Robert A. Weiss (MD, assistant professor of dermatology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore) notes that although most women seek help to remove the popping tracings of veins—better known as spider veins—on their skins, a quartet of the 60% estimation are men.
Spider veins are a minor form of varicose veins, but they are as unsightly as varicose veins. Once, it is exposed to the sun, the collagen under our skin breaks down and it makes spider veins even worse.
Moreover, given that the varicose vein is unsightly because of the “purple snake” effect, it has many other throbbing issues including the cramping at night. It is because of the huge amount of blood that pools into the legs. The blood causes the legs to feel leaden and heavy. Weiss also warns that the clear fluid from the veins can choke the circulation off the skin if it leaks into the tissues resulting to a painful skin ulcer and rashes.
What causes varicose veins?
Blood circulation plays a role in developing varicose vein.
The heart pumps blood to the rest of the body’s tissues through the arteries, and the veins are responsible to recirculate the blood back to the heart. Normally, the veins in the legs have to work double effort to return the blood to the heart as it has to work against gravity. The contractions in the lower leg muscles act as pumps, and elastic vein walls help blood return to the heart. Through the opening of the tiny valves in the veins, the blood flows toward the heart. These valves also close stop blood from flowing backward.
However, there are factors that let collect blood in the leg vein and enlarge it including age, gender, hereditary, obesity, and standing or sitting for long period of hours.
In other words, the exact cause for varicose vein is unknown, but experts are looking at genetic tendency toward frail vein valves. Hormones are their other options, most especially in women in which the incidence has a more increased rate. Pregnancy, menopause, puberty, as well as taking birth control pills, progesterone, and estrogen, can deteriorate leg circulation and vein valves.
Weiss says that during pregnancy, the increased blood volume is what causes the veins to bulge. The mother has a double effort to circulate the blood for the fetus and herself. Additionally, the blood does not easily circulate back to the heart because of the full weight of the uterus that is just above the thighs. Note that in 3 months after pregnancy, veins that pop can collapse; however, new pregnancies can bring varicose veins back, and sometimes stay.
Diagnosis and remedy for varicose veins
There are modern methods of diagnosing and treating varicose veins.
This is used to look at the circulatory system of the leg. Instead of using a Doppler device to listen to blood flow in the leg and detect where and which veins are affected, doctors take a sharp, two-dimensional picture. According to Sandy S. Tsao, MD, a dermatologist assistant at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and a dermatology instructor at Harvard Medical School, duplex ultrasound can also know the condition of the exact affected vein. This means that doctors can easily determine the appropriate treatment to use.
There is an old technique called stripping that is used to treat varicose vein. It includes making an incision at the groin level and inserting a metal rod in it. Through the other end of the vein, a metal cap was screwed on. The vein will be stripped through the incision by pulling the rod back through the leg. The process will take the mass of wormy vein away.
However, stripping is hardly ever done anymore; so, a new treatment is introduced. First, an anesthesia mixed with fluid is injected to make the procedure painless. At the same, this can press the blood out of the vein. After that, the doctor will insert a thin catheter into the lumen—the inside of the vein. Radio waves will be heated in the lumen, shrinking the tough collagen to collapse the varicose veins. It may take 8 weeks for the veins to re-absorb due to bruising but scarring is fortunately almost imperceptible.
Ambulatory phlebectomy is a quick method in which the vein is extracted with a crochet-hook-like device.
This is an agent like an emulsifier or detergent. It is agitated with air, forming a foam. The foam is then injected into the vein, gradually causes the walls of the vein to swell and stick together. Sclerotherapy, according to Tsao is more advisable to spider veins than varicose veins as varicose veins require more aggressive therapy because it is a larger vessel.
These also used as a treatment for the vein. It is done by sending concentrated light into the vein to collapse it. According to Weiss, there is a little discomfort when the laser hit the skin, but the doctors are quickly cooling the skin off.
Basically, a blood clot is the number one complications for varicose veins procedures. This is the reason why surgeons prefer people with normal clotting capability when doing the procedure.
Normal weight is a big factor to keep the circulatory systems going strong. It is advised to have a diet rich in fiber and low in carbs.
Foods rich in coenzyme, vitamin K, and omega-3 oils are advisable as coenzyme helps with the tissue oxygenation and circulation. Omega-3 oils, on the other hand, help with the elasticity of blood vessels.
Ginkgo biloba is another remedy recommended for varicose veins. However, some professionals are doubtful with ginkgo as there were no formal studies of its effects on varicose veins.