What Are Varicose Veins and Why Me?

What Are Varicose Veins and Why Me?

Varicose veins are large rope-like veins that appear on people’s legs or thighs and are often assumed to be painful and dangerous. Anybody can develop varicose veins in their lifetime but some individuals are more prone to developing them than others.

Varicose veins are abnormal veins that develop when blood starts to flow down the veins of the thighs/legs (a process called venous reflux), placing stress on the vein and its valves. The problem starts at a “valve” in the vein, which becomes faulty for some reason. Some of the causes include pregnancy, trauma and having a genetic predisposition for weak or faulty venous valves.

As the venous blood, which is essentially old deoxygenated blood, starts flowing in a reverse direction, it places pressure on the remaining valves in the affected vein. Eventually, more valves fail, which sends more venous blood down the thigh or leg, causing the affected vein to dilate in size. As new abnormal vein branches form, large ropey or bulging veins begin to appear.

Varicose veins are often associated with certain symptoms related to “old blood” (deoxygenated) remaining in the lower limbs longer than usual. Symptoms may include aching, heaviness, throbbing, itching, swelling, tingling and restless legs.

Certain occupations are more prone to developing varicose veins than others, especially if you have a family history of varicose veins. Some of the higher risk occupations include retail or factory work, masseuse, surgeons, hairdressers and makeup artists.

Wearing high heels on a regular basis could increase your risk of developing varicose veins, especially if you have abnormal foot arches. The good old “crossing your legs will cause varicose veins” is a bit of a myth! The most common precipitating factors for someone developing varicose veins are weight gain and pregnancy.

If you have varicose veins, it’s best to see an expert as soon as you can because they will only deteriorate over time and cause deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and venous ulcers.

These days, varicose veins can be treated using non-surgical walk-in, walk-out procedures that don’t require any downtime.

Dr Omarjee has been treating varicose veins and spider veins for over 13 years.