What are varicose veins?

Varicose veins are veins that have lost the functionality of their valves. This results in backward flow, pooled blood, swelling and bulging within and around the area of the vein. The veins can appear purple, green, blue or red. The very small ones just under the surface of the skin are usually called spider veins.

Factors that cause or exacerbate varicose veins

Ageing, genetics

Hormonal influences â?? during puberty, menopause, contraceptive medications and preparations containing estrogen and progesterone

Pregnancy â?? increased blood volume, and pressure from the abdomen (also in obesity)

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Sun damage (causes little spider veins around the nose or on the cheeks)

How you can limit varicose vein formation

Apply sunscreen daily to your face

Exercise, and stay at your goal weight

Do not cross your legs when sitting, and elevate the legs during resting

Avoid standing and sitting for extended periods

Limit salt intake, drink lots of water and eat foods rich in fibre

When are varicose veins dangerous?

Veins can get large clots ( deep vein thrombosis ), or inflamed ( thrombo-phlebitis), and these are potentially dangerous conditions with possible complications.  If the leg or vein has become swollen, red or very tender and warm to the touch, please see your docter as a matter of urgency.

What are possible treatments for varicose veins?

Laser or IPL â?? we find best results on the facial spider veins around the nose or on the cheeks as well as on the chest (decolletage), and when you have the ‘chicken neck’. This is not usually very successful on large leg veins.

Sclerotherapy – ideal for small and moderate veins on the legs with long lasting results. A solution is injected in to the vein causing it to seal shut. The vein fades in a few weeks, it does not require anaeshetic and is done in the doctors office. Expect some bruising, stinging and cramp sensations during the procedure, with temporary redness. Sometimes a darkened line can form around treated veins and this can take a few months to be absorbed. If there is a swelling in one of the veins that was treated, this can be drained at the follow up consultation.

You can continue with your normal routines straight after the treatment, and only a pressure bandage will be applied that can removed after 48 hours.

Laser Surgery,  and endovenous techniques with radiofrequency and laser are also proving successful treatment options, and also do not require admission and anaeshetic.

Surgical ligation and stripping can totally remove the very large vericosities, but this is invasive, does require hospitalization and should be reserved as the final option.

Can the veins come back ?

The veins do not usually ‘come back’ but weak valves will result in new abnormal veins can form and these will need to be kept in check, usually on a yearly basis.

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.