the actual cause of varicose veins is not known, in most cases there is a hereditary component. Picture: Laurence Laborie. Source: Supplied
IT'S NOT just cosmetic – these bulging veins can have serious side effects.
It’s almost summer. Time to put away the stockings and bring out the shorts and swimming costumes. But for some women, the thought of exposing their legs is the stuff of nightmares as they try to hide their varicose veins. But what are varicose veins? Are they dangerous? and how can women avoid developing them?
>> the veins explainedVaricose veins are veins that have developed weak walls. after blood flows from the heart through the arteries to the rest of the body, it is returned through veins back to the heart. If valves in the veins don’t work properly, blood can flow backwards and pool, stretching the veins. Varicose veins can be highly visible as they may bulge above the skin’s surface. while varicose veins are often found in the legs, Dr Paul Varcoe, from the Leg Vein Clinic, says they can also occur in the groin. “Women can get vaginal and men can get scrotal varicose veins. they can appear in the lower abdomen and around the breasts as well.”According to Dr Kurosh Parsi, president of the Australian College of Phlebology, this is not just a cosmetic issue. If the veins go untreated, they can cause symptoms such as pain, itchiness and fatigue. In the long term, problems can be a lot more serious. As the veins gradually damage the skin, it can lead to eczema and dermatitis, Dr Parsi says. “People don’t link varicose veins with problems like leg ulcers. I’ve had ladies who’ve had their legs amputated because of that.”In about three per cent of cases, people can also develop a blood clot, which could cause a pulmonary embolism.
>> Many causesThe actual cause of varicose veins is not known. however, in most cases there is a hereditary component. “the genes are usually dormant. Environmental factors make the genes do what they’re going to do,” Dr Parsi says. these environmental factors vary. In women, the condition may worsen when there is a fluctuation of hormones, such as during pregnancy and menopause, puberty or when taking the contraceptive pill, which is why the condition is more often found in women than men. “Even if you have a strong familial tendency, if you stay healthy and exercise, the muscles in your legs are pumping and that means you’re draining the leg. the blood then has less chance to escape the veins, come into the tissue and damage the skin,” Dr Parsi says.It’s a misconception that crossing your legs exacerbates varicose veins, but standing for long periods and wearing high heels do make the condition worse, Dr Parsi says. “you don’t get a full range of movement in your calf muscle when you wear heels, so high-heel shoes are very bad for the muscle pump.”
>> New treatmentsFor many years it was believed that completely removing the vein via surgery was the only treatment, but there are now other options.In endovenous laser ablation, a catheter is inserted into the vein. a laser is then inserted into the catheter to seal off the vein. another option is ultrasound- guided sclerotherapy, which uses an injected solution to block off the vein. Dr Varcoe says this treatment is more suited to smaller veins and its effectiveness depends on the doctor’s expertise. “There’s no evidence to suggest that using a cream or taking a tablet has any effect at all,” he says
>> How to have healthy veins+ Don’t wear high-heel shoes.+ keep your weight down and exercise regularly to help blood movement.+ Avoid hot baths - they dilate veins. + Don’t sit or stand still for long periods.+ Talk to a doctor about the option of compression stockings.
<a href="http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/ipad/how-to-avoid-varicose-veins/story-fn6jaj16-1226206138382tag:news.google.com,2005:cluster=http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/ipad/how-to-avoid-varicose-veins/story-fn6jaj16-1226206138382Sat, 26 Nov 2011 13:07:46 GMT”>How to avoid varicose veins