[quote_box_left]The enlarged veins in your legs are called varicose veins, whereas the smaller ones are called spider veins, which look like spider’s web. At first, it is mostly a cosmetic problem with greenish, bluish and pinkish vessels forming on your legs, however, it can become severe and cause chronic complications for patients[/quote_box_left]

It is almost spring, the time when we take a closer look at our bodies from a cosmetic perspective. Do you have enlarged veins in your legs that form lumps and bumps on your skin or smaller versions that look like spider webs? Well, the ones that are on the surface layer of your skin are not dangerous, but are no very pleasant to look at either. The enlarged veins in your legs are called varicose veins, whereas the smaller ones are called spider veins. Varicose veins can form twists and accumulate in one zone, forming venous packs as well as cause big bumps on your skin.

The term varicose veins mostly refer to these abnormal veins in your legs, but they can also form in other areas of the body. The veins most commonly affected are those in your legs and feet due to the reverse flow of blood from your legs to your heart. Venous blood pressure is very low; thus, flowing against gravity can be challenging for veins, especially in the lower limbs. This is why leg veins have several pairs of valves to prevent blood from flowing with gravity. Of course, the venous blood flow of your legs is not only dependent on these valves. Leg muscles do a great job as well, and work as external pumps for these vessels with each movement, forcing the blood all the way up to the heart. If these valves become damaged, then blood cannot continue to flow. Therefore, it flows back down your legs causing blood accumulation in your lower limbs. When this becomes a chronic problem, the increased blood volume causes enlargement of your veins. This moves the blood vessels even further away from each other. At first, it is mostly a cosmetic problem with greenish, bluish and pinkish-reddish vessels forming on your legs. However, it can become severe and cause chronic complications for patients. Although life-threatening complications are uncommon, complicated varicose veins can lead to leg swelling, venous eczema due to accumulated blood, hyperpigmentation, skin thickening and ulceration.

Although most of the time, either varicose or spider veins are simply a cosmetic concern, for some, they can be painful and uncomfortable. Even when they are not complicated by ulcers or eczema, they can cause a burning sensation in your feet and aching pain in your legs. They can be really painful especially at night when sleeping, and can be accompanied by restless leg syndrome. Besides burning and aching, there are patients that complain of cramps, tingling and throbbing feelings in their legs. The most common complaints are aching and cramping sensations. However, tingling, burning and throbbing feelings are also commonly reported. There are preventive measures that can be combined with one of the possible treatment options. On the other hand, varicose veins may be a signal of other venous disorders such as hemorrhoids, varicocele and other varicose veins in gastrointestinal or genital organs. They are more common in women than men, and are mainly hereditary. The most common causes of this disease other than hereditary factors are hormonal imbalances and increased abdominal pressure. Examples of these conditions include pregnancy, menopause, aging, obesity abdominal straining, prolonged standing and leg injuries.

Although it is a very uncomfortable condition, its treatment is fairly straightforward. However, people often do not seek help for the condition, probably because it usually does not cause life-threatening problems. There are surgical and non-surgical treatments for both varicose and spider veins. Non-surgical treatments begin with exercise and continue with leg elevation, elastic pressured stockings and sclerotherapy. Surgical treatments include vein stripping (which is almost never used with current technology), and ultrasound-guided foam sclerotherapy, but the most commonly-used and current method is endovenous ablation of the vein with either radiofrequency or a laser. Removing the vein with stripping, or closing it by endovenous ablation will not generally cause circulatory issues, since these superficial vessels only carry 10 percent of the blood to your lower limbs. And for a healthier deep venous system, you should seek treatment for insufficient problematic superficial varicose veins. When the problem is spider veins alone, though, non-surgical treatments are generally helpful. We generally choose different methods according to the size of each vessel. When they are tiny and reddish, we choose from ozone sclerotherapy and external laser or radiofrequency ablation. When they are bigger and bluish in color, we choose from classic or foam sclerotherapy. The bottom line is that, whatever the size, there is a solution for any cosmetic concern caused by varicose or spider veins. Moreover, you should seek a vascular surgeon for best results.

Spider veins are the most common complaint of women during the spring, and they seek out a solution before the summer. Although, it is also the best time to get treated, as your treatment will be finished before the sun sees your legs.

In general, spider veins aren’t always preventable, but there are things you can do to avoid this condition. Wearing sunscreen may help protect you from spider veins. Also, keeping your legs crossed may reduce blood flow in your legs and cause damage to your veins, which may lead to spider and varicose veins. So, try not to cross your legs or ankles when sitting. As I mentioned, your leg muscles work as an external pump for your veins, so you should get moving. Even for those who stand still for a long time or the ones who sit all day should take exercise breaks and walk to help get your blood flowing. You should also avoid sitting or standing still for more than 30 minutes without a walk break. Elevating legs also helps blood flow to your heart, this time by using gravity’s help. After a long day, try to elevate your legs and drain the blood back towards your heart. Lastly, smoking causes aging everywhere, even in your veins. Since venous diseases are chronic and become worse by the day if not treated, smoking will only make them get worse much faster.

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