Varicose Veins – What Causes Them?

Varicose Veins – What Causes Them?


By Dr. Nitin Pathak, Vascular Surgery

Varicose veins are enlarged or dilated veins which turn red or bluish-purple in color. Varicose veins are extremely painful and more than 25% of adults suffer from them. These patients are more often women than men.

Veins like any other blood vessels have valves which ensure a one-directional flow of blood. When there is a failure in the valves, blood collects in the veins itself causing them to enlarge. Varicose veins are most often found to affect the legs. There are a few factors that might cause varicose veins. These include-

  1. Pregnancy
  2. Menopause
  3. Obesity
  4. Age

Varicose veins are characterized by misshapen, swollen veins. You might experience pain and itchiness around the enlarged veins. There might be discoloration, and in severe cases the veins might bleed.

Treatment and Prevention-
You can prevent the formation and worsening of varicose veins if you-

  • Eat healthy and control your weight gain.
  • Improve your blood circulation through exercise.
  • Keep your legs elevated when you are sleeping or resting.

Your physician might recommend the use of compression socks to exert pressure on the legs. These help in blood circulation and reduce the swelling of the veins.

If the changes in your lifestyle do not yield satisfactory results and the pain worsens, your physician might prescribe surgery. Vein ligation and stripping are surgical procedures in which the surgeon makes an incision and removes the varicose vein.

Other surgical options which are minimally invasive include-

  1. Sclerotherapy, which uses a foam or liquid chemical in the form of an injection in order to block larger veins from swelling.
  2. Microsclerotherapy which uses injection to block smaller veins.
  3. Endovenous abalation therapy that uses heat and radio frequency waves to block veins.
  4. Endoscopic surgery which uses a small incision through which a lighted scope is inserted and used to navigate the tools as the surgeon blocks off a varicose vein.

Varicose veins worsen with time, so seek medical help when you notice any of the above mentioned symptoms. They could lead to sores, blood clots and chronic inflammation. They can be extremely painful so should be remedied as soon as possible.