Research shows that at least 20 million Americans have varicose veins, which are one of the most common venous leg diseases. Women are twice as likely as men to develop varicose veins. Below explains what specific questions you should ask your doctor concerning varicose vein treatment.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are caused by weak or worn vein valves. The heart sends oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to the whole body through the arteries. In turn, the veins carry the blood back to the heart. Veins work in conjunction with the leg muscles to fight gravity and push blood back to the heart. However, the vein values that stop blood from flowing back may become weak. As a result, blood collects in the veins and eventually causes the veins to expand and become varicose. There are additional factors that also contribute to varicose veins or make them worse.
What Makes Varicose Veins Worse?
There are certain factors that can contribute to varicose veins and make them worse. First, as people become older, the valves in their veins weaken and do not function properly. Second, certain people have a genetic predisposition for weak veins. Almost 50 percent of people with varicose veins have family members who also suffer from varicose veins. Third, hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy and menopause can cause varicose veins to develop. Even taking certain medicines, such as those that contain estrogen, may contribute to the formation of varicose veins. In fact, pregnancy directly results in higher blood pressure as the growing uterus and changing body puts pressure on the veins. Fourth, obesity will result in high blood pressure and add stress on the veins. Fifth, a sedentary lifestyle will force the veins to work overtime in order to properly pump blood back to the heart.
What Tests are Used to Diagnose Varicose Veins?
According to the WebMD, there are visual checks and specific questions that doctors use to diagnose varicose veins. For example, the doctor will perform a standard physical exam that involves inspecting the legs while the patient is sitting and standing. Additionally, doctors also use an ultrasound test to assess if the vein valves are functioning normally. They will also double check to see if there is any evidence of blood clots. The ultrasound test is non-invasive and only takes a short time.
There are three types of treatment procedures for varicose veins: sclerotherapy, vein stripping and heat or laser ablation. Sclerotherapy is the most common treatment for varicose veins. The physician will inject a chemical into the vein that will cause the it to bulge, clump together and then seal shut. This will stop the blood flow and turn the vein into a scar that will eventually fade.
In the end, there are minor surgery procedures that can remove varicose veins. As an alternative, people can also wear compression stockings to help put pressure on the veins.