What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins were once healthy veins. It is believed that the walls of the leg veins become weak in some sections. The sections of the vein widen and become more prominent. Inside the leg veins, there are valves. The valves allow blood from the toes to return to the heart against the pressures of gravity. The vein valve is very fragile and looks like a set of trap doors. With each beat of your heart, blood rushes past these valves and the valves shut, inching blood back to your heart. However, if the vein walls get weak, the diameter of the vein increases, and thus, the vein widens. If the vein expands, these fragile vein valves are disrupted. If the vein valves are separated, the vein valves may become leaky, and blood may pool and flow backward. Pooling blood and dilated veins led to the appearance of a large, thick ropey vein. Once one valve is disrupted, there is extra pressure throughout the rest of the leg vein. This added pressure can cause more vein widening and more leaky valves. Added pressure and increased blood volume may be one reason why varicose veins spread.
Typically, these dilated varicose veins are located just under the surface of the skin. Usually, varicose veins are found in the legs and calfs. Varicose veins are often easy to see as they look like worms or snakes under the skin. Varicose veins they may be green or dark blue. If you are overweight, varicose veins may be less noticeable because the dilated veins may be hidden by leg fat.
How do I know if I have varicose veins?
Besides bulging of the leg veins, symptoms of varicose veins include leg discomfort, leg aching, heaviness, fatigue, burning, throbbing, and cramping of the legs. Varicose veins may be associated with superficial thread-like veins. These thread-like veins are a different type of vein. They are called telangiectasias or "spider veins."
What happens if varicose veins are left untreated?
If left untreated, varicose veins usually get worse. Bulging leg veins will spread up and down the legs. Sometimes the blood in the dilated veins leaks from the vein. Blood which is not in the circulatory system is called "extravascular blood." Extravascular blood can cause skin irritation of the skin. Extravascular blood can also cause foot and ankle swelling at the end of the day. This extravascular blood can also cause ankle discoloration.
Who is prone to developing varicose veins? About 30% of adults develop varicose veins in their lifetime. More women than men develop varicose veins. Most patients with varicose veins do not have an underlying disease. There are four known risk factors for developing varicose veins. Pregnancy: The occurrence of varicose veins during pregnancy is increased due to the baby causing extra pressure on the leg veins. Also, varicose veins develop because of hormonal changes associated with pregnancy. These pregnancy hormones send messages to the veins and instruct the vein walls to relax. Medical studies have shown that the more babies you have, the more risk you are of developing permanent varicose veins. During pregnancy, varicose veins tend to appear and get worse. After childbirth, when the pressure in the leg veins decreases, varicose veins often decrease or disappear. Age: varicose veins are more common with increasing age. Obesity: medical studies show that the incidence of varicose veins increases in obese women. However, for some unknown reason, there is no higher incidence of varicose veins in obese men. Standing jobs: jobs which entail a significant amount of standing cause undue stress on the leg veins. This increased stress and pressure increase the propensity to the development of varicose veins.
What complications can occur from having varicose veins?
Most people with varicose veins do not develop complications. Complications from varicose veins only happen in a small number of patients. Complications from varicose veins are due to higher pressure in the varicose vein. The increased pressure within the vein causes changes in the small blood vessels in the nearby skin. If complications occur from a varicose vein, these complications usually occur years after the development of the first varicose vein. It is impossible to anticipate who will develop complications from a varicose vein. The visible signs of the varicose vein do not determine whether complications will occur. Complications from varicose veins include thinning of the leg skin, staining of the leg skin, chronic, non-healing bleeding leg ulcers, and acute bleeding.
How are varicose veins treated?
There are several ways to treat varicose veins. Treatment can include injection of a sclerotic material which helps to collapse the varicose vein. Older techniques include stripping the vein. Stripping the vein requires a minimal incision around the knee and small incision around the groin. A catheter is passed from the knee to the groin. A little metallic vein stripper in the shape of a bullet is attached to the catheter. The catheter with the bullet attached is pulled, and the varicose vein is removed or stripped. Newer techniques involve endo-venous laser ablation. During endo-venous laser ablation, an incision is made around the knee with a tiny needle. A laser fiber optic cable is inserted from the knee to the groin. The laser is withdrawn carefully and slowly inside the vein. As the laser is withdrawn, the laser fires pulses of energy. The firing of the laser causes thermal damage to the inside of the vein. The damage causes the vein to collapse on its own and disappear.
Is the treatment of varicose veins covered by insurance?
Yes, often varicose vein treatment is covered by insurance. Medical insurance coverage entirely depends on your symptoms, past treatment, and severity of your symptoms. Health insurance coverage for varicose veins also depends on the quality of your healthcare and strength of your plastic surgeon's letter of medical necessity requesting the procedure.
If I have varicose veins and they are prominent and painful, what should I do?
Please seek an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon with significant experience in varicose vein removal. Please call Dr. Katzen today at 310-859-7770 to schedule a consultation to finally get rid of those varicose veins once and for all. Dr. Katzen and his staff will treat you from start to finish. Dr. Katzen has convenient offices in Beverly Hills, Las Vegas.