You can usually see varicose veins beneath the surface of the skin due to their enlarged and twisted appearance. These swollen veins often appear blue or red. Though they can develop in any region of the body, they’re typically found in the legs. Both men and women can have these troublesome veins, but women tend to be most susceptible.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
As blood circulates throughout your body, the one-way valves in your veins help to overcome gravity in order to move the blood back up to the heart. However, sometimes these valves malfunction, causing blood to leak back through and pool in the veins. This collection leads veins to become swollen and mangled. Sometimes, these varicose veins are merely a cosmetic issue and don’t cause problems. If the condition of the valve worsens, the veins may become more damaged and cause pain or swelling. Changes to the condition of the skin or even blood clots can develop if the vein condition is severely compromised.
There are some risk factors that may make people more likely to encounter these swollen veins. Age is a major one. As we get older, the valves in our veins begin to deteriorate. Women are also more at risk for varicose veins than men due to the numerous hormonal changes that occur in the female body over the lifespan. Such events as puberty, pregnancy and menopause make women more susceptible to the problem, as does exposure to birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy. Obesity makes the valves work harder to return blood to the heart, leading weight gain to be a prevalent factor in developing this condition. Heredity, standing or sitting for long periods of time repeatedly and being born with valves that don’t work properly are other contributing risk factors of varicose veins.
Symptoms and Treatments
Symptoms will vary depending on the extent of the vein damage. Often, the twisted veins will be visible beneath the skin with no other issues. A heavy feeling, fullness, aching, discomfort or even pain in the legs is a problem for many sufferers. Cramps in the thighs or calves with swollen ankles and feet may also develop. Itching is possible. Other, more serious signs include hardening of the skin, ulcers or sores, leg swelling or pain after long periods of sitting, skin color changes and dry skin that cracks.
There are many treatments for varicose veins, from mild to severe cases. The right treatment for you will depend on your unique situation. See our team at Ozark Regional Vein Center in Rogers if you are concerned about varicose veins. Proactive measures are advised, as allowing the problem to go untreated can lead to serious health risks. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to learn more.