Varicose veins are large but superficial veins visible on near the surface of your skin, they are often recognised as enlarged, swollen, twisted, dark blue or purple and lumpy. The most often occur on legs, and the back of the calf, this is due to an increased pressure in the lower body from standing up. However, they can appear on other areas of the body. They can cause pain and discomfort, but often people find them unpleasant and would like them removed for cosmetic reasons. Varicose veins can lead to more-serious problems if left untreated.

Symptoms of Varicose veins

Varicose veins can be identified by their dark blue or purple colour, they emerge in twisting patterns, sometimes spirals, and look like cords. Varicose veins may not always cause pain. These veins are usually found on the leg and the back of a person’s calves.

  • When painful indicators or varicose veins are:
  • Itching around one or more of your veins
  • Skin discoloration around a varicose vein
  • An achy or heavy feeling in your legs
  • Burning, throbbing, muscle cramping and swelling in your lower legs
  • Worsened pain after sitting or standing for a long time
  • Some people also experience very small veins closer to the skins surface, these are known as spider veins and are usually redder in colour. Spider veins appear on the legs, but they are usually found on the face.

Causes of Varicose veins

Arteries carry blood from your heart to the rest of your tissues, and veins return blood from the rest of your body to your heart, so the blood can be recirculated. To return blood to your heart, the veins in your legs must work against gravity. Valves in veins help support the blood flowing around the body, and up the legs. Weak or damaged valves can cause blood to flow backward, pooling in the vein potentially causing varicose veins.

  • These factors increase the risk of developing varicose veins:
  • Gender: Women are at greater risk of developing varicose veins that men due to hormonal changes, menopause, and contraceptive medications
  • Age: Veins deteriorate with age and eventually some will weaken
  • Genetics: Family history of increases the chance they will develop
  • Pregnancy: The amount of blood in your body increases during pregnancy due to changes in hormones to support the growth of a foetus.
  • Obesity: This puts increased pressure on your veins
  • Lack of movement: Your blood flow decreases if you remain in the same position of extended periods, this includes sitting and standing.

Complications of Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are usually nothing to worry about, however ignored they can cause some difficulties. Rare complications of varicose veins, can include:

  • Bleeding: Occasionally, veins very close to the skin may burst. This usually causes only minor bleeding. But any bleeding requires medical attention
  • Ulcers: Painful ulcers may form on the skin near varicose veins, particularly near the ankles: A discoloured spot on the skin usually begins before an ulcer forms. See your doctor immediately if you suspect you've developed an ulcer.
  • Blood clots: Occasionally, veins deep within the legs become enlarged. In such cases, the affected leg may become painful and swell. Any persistent leg pain or swelling warrants medical attention because it may indicate a blood clot — a condition known medically as thrombophlebitis.

Prevention of Varicose veins

There's no way to completely prevent varicose veins. But improving your circulation and muscle tone may reduce your risk of developing varicose veins or getting additional ones. The same measures you can take to treat the discomfort from varicose veins at home can help prevent varicose veins, including:

  • Exercising regularly
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Eating a high-fibre, low-salt diet
  • Avoiding high heels and tight clothing
  • Elevating your legs
  • Regularly changing position
  • Wearing compression stockings

If you're concerned visible veins and feel conscious and self-care measures haven't stopped your condition from getting worse, contact us now for a free consultation with one of our nurse practitioners.