Having varicose veins can be embarrassing and frustrating. They can make you feel uncomfortable going out in public with your legs showing and even make you want to avoid the outdoors altogether during the warm summer months. More than that, varicose veins can cause pain, swelling, and other symptoms. If you’re tired of dealing with the hassle of varicose veins, it might be time for sclerotherapy. Nunnally Dermatology in Baton Rouge, LA is here to help you through the process.
When Should You Consider Sclerotherapy?
This treatment for varicose veins involves injecting a solution directly into the varicose vein. The solution irritates the lining of the blood vessel, which causes the walls of the vessel to collapse and stick to one another. Blood can no longer pass through the offending vein.
So when should you consider getting this treatment to get rid of your varicose veins? Why not now? If you are tired of trying to hide your twisted, enlarged veins, it’s time to consider this treatment. If you’re dealing with aching, itching, burning, or other painful symptoms of varicose veins, it’s time to consider this treatment. If you want skin clear of those unattractive veins, it’s time to consider this treatment.
Now that we know a bit more about the treatment of varicose veins, let’s learn about how these veins form, what the possible symptoms are, and how you can relieve those symptoms.
How Varicose Veins Form
Arteries and veins are responsible for circulating your blood throughout your body so each of your cells gets the nourishment that they need. Oxygenated blood travels from the heart through the arteries to the capillaries, where it deposits oxygen and nutrients into your cells. Then, the veins take the deoxygenated blood back to the heart to be filled again with oxygen and used to nourish your cells.
Your arteries have thick layers of muscle or elastic tissue to help them push blood all throughout your body. Your veins, however, do not have the benefit of thick walls of muscles to pump the blood and have to rely on the surrounding muscles and a network of one-way valves. As blood flows through the veins toward the heart, the valves open to allow blood through and then close to prevent any backflow.
If the valves become weak or damaged, they might allow blood to flow backward, even after closing. This results in the pooling of blood in parts of a vein. As time goes on and more blood flows backward, varicose veins form.
Symptoms of Varicose Veins
Not all individuals with varicose veins experience symptoms. Plenty of individuals choose to get rid of their varicose veins through sclerotherapy simply for aesthetic purposes. However, there are some common symptoms of these veins you might experience.
Common symptoms of varicose veins are swelling of the feet, ankles, and legs. You might experience throbbing or burning, or heaviness and discomfort in the legs. You might notice changes in the color of the skin, or that the skin surrounding your varicose veins is becoming harder or thicker.
While varicose veins rarely result in complications, there are a few to look out for.
It’s possible that painful ulcers can form on the skin near varicose veins, especially near the ankles. Before an ulcer forms, you will usually notice a discolored spot on the skin. If you think you’ve developed an ulcer, you should contact your doctor immediately.
Occasionally, veins that are deep within the leg become enlarged. This may cause the leg to become swollen and painful. If you experience any persistent leg pain or swelling, you should seek medical attention because it may mean that you have a blood clot.
Sometimes varicose veins that are close to the skin might burst. Usually, only minor bleeding results from this, but any bleeding necessitates medical attention.
There are some factors that increase your risk of developing varicose veins.
As you age, your body goes through a lot of wear and tear. This includes the valves that help your veins regulate blood flow. Eventually, the weakened valves begin to allow blood to flow backward through them and varicose veins form.
Individuals who are assigned female at birth are more likely to develop varicose veins. This is because the hormonal changes that happen during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause tend to relax vein walls. Furthermore, hormone treatments such as birth control pills also can increase your risk of varicose veins.
The hormones that come with pregnancy increase your risk of developing varicose veins, but that’s not the only reason pregnancy is a risk factor. When you are pregnant, the volume of blood in your body increases, which can cause the veins in your legs to become enlarged.
If you have family members who have developed varicose veins, there is an increased chance that you will also develop them.
Part of the reason varicose veins form is because of increased pressure on your veins. The greater your weight is, the more pressure being put on your veins.
Standing or Sitting for Long Periods
If you stay in one position for a long period of time, the blood doesn’t flow well.
While you can’t completely prevent the development of varicose veins, there are things you can do to decrease your risk of developing varicose veins. These preventative measures can also be used to decrease the symptoms of varicose veins that have already formed.
Regularly engaging in exercise encourage healthy blood circulation in the legs, and it helps to push along any blood that has collected in the veins. Low-impact exercises, specifically, help to get the calf muscles working without causing strain. Some great low-impact exercises are swimming, walking, cycling, and yoga.
You can purchase compression stockings at most pharmacies. These stockings help by applying pressure to the legs, which aids the muscles and veins in moving blood toward the heart.
There are some extracts that can help reduce the symptoms of varicose veins. Horse chestnut extract can help to reduce leg pain, heaviness, and itching. Sea pine extract and Butcher’s broom extract can both reduce edema, or swelling of the legs.
Foods that are high in sodium can cause the body to retain water. Cutting down on salty foods can help minimize the amount of water your body retains. Foods that are high in potassium can also help reduce water retention.
Foods that are high in fiber can also help. This is because they help keep the bowels moving and prevent constipation. Straining can aggravate damaged valves and make varicose veins worse, so reducing the amount you need to strain is important.
Flavanoids are a specific nutrient that improves blood circulation and may help individuals shrink their varicose veins. Because flavonoids keep the blood flowing, the blood is less likely to pool in the veins. Flavonoids also help to reduce blood pressure in the arteries, which can reduce varicose veins.
Vegetables, especially onions, bell peppers, spinach, and broccoli, are high in flavonoids, as are citrus fruits and grapes, cherries, apples, and blueberries. Cocoa and garlic are also high in this nutrient.
Orally taking grape seed extract can help to reduce swelling in the lower legs as well as other symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency. However, if you are on blood-thinning medication, it is important that you do not take grape seed extract as it can interact with your medications.
Wearing clothes that are very tight can actually restrict your blood flow. You might find that your circulation is improved when you wear clothes that fit loosely. Additionally, wearing flat shoes instead of high heels can help reduce the symptoms of varicose veins in the legs.
When you develop varicose veins in your legs, it means that the blood is having a hard time flowing against gravity back up to your heart. But keeping your legs elevated, ideally at the same height of your heart, or above it, can help. This allows you to use gravity to your advantage and help encourage blood flow back to the heart.
You can encourage blood flow through your veins by gently massaging your legs or other areas where you have developed varicose veins. However, it is imperative that you avoid directly pressing on varicose veins as this can damage already fragile tissues.
As best as you can, avoid sitting for long periods of time. If your job is one that requires that you sit for long periods, try to get up and move around or change position regularly to keep blood flowing. You should also avoid sitting with your legs crossed, as this can restrict blood flow and worsen circulation problems.
The Process of Sclerotherapy
It’s important to know what to expect from this treatment before you know what you’re walking into.
Candidates for Treatment
The first step to getting rid of your varicose veins is to have a consultation with your doctor. They will decide if you’re a good candidate for this treatment. If you are currently pregnant, you are not eligible for this treatment. If you have had a blood clot in the past, your doctor will determine whether you are a good candidate on an individual basis, depending on the reason for the clot and the overall health of the area being treated.
You should avoid taking certain medications for two weeks prior to treatment. When you have a consultation with your doctor, they’ll let you know which of your medications you should stop prior to treatment, and which are okay to continue. When talking with your doctor, be sure to include any prescription and over-the-counter medications, as well as any herbal supplements you take.
You should not apply any lotion to your legs prior to the treatment. You also should not take medications including aspirin or ibuprofen for two days before the treatment as it can increase bleeding.
The treatment is simple! Your doctor will inject a salt solution into your varicose vein using a very fine needle. If you have multiple varicose veins, the doctor may inject those as well. It takes about fifteen minutes to half an hour.
Get Rid of the Veins
Whether your varicose veins leave your legs feeling swollen and achy or you simply are done feeling embarrassed and uncomfortable with your varicose veins, it’s time to consider sclerotherapy. Don’t go through another summer wanting to hide your legs. Don’t waste your time wondering what it would be like to live in skin clear of varicose veins. Let yourself enjoy the feeling of legs that no longer bear enlarged and twisted varicose veins.
For more information about this varicose vein treatment, or to schedule a consultation, give us a call at Nunnally Dermatology in Baton Rouge, LA.