About Varicose Veins
How common are varicose veins in Bellingham?
•40% of women and 25% of men suffer from varicose veins.
•20% of the population develop vein problems by age 20.
•50% of the population develop vein problems by age 80.
•25% of people with spider veins (surface veins) also have saphenous vein disease which can lead to varicose veins.
•Each year over 1 million people choose treatment for vein removal.
What causes varicose veins?
Your veins are equipped with tiny valves along the length of the vein that open and close with each heartbeat to push the blood upward in a “stair-step” process on its return to the heart. At the same time, the valve action prevents the blood from flowing backward to the lower legs.
Vein problems begin when the tiny valves fail to close properly, allowing back-flow and pooling of blood in the leg veins, causing swelling and bulging. This happens to some degree with the normal aging process as tissue loses its elasticity, but is often accelerated by genetic factors, stress, smoking, hormones, and pregnancy.
Valve failure usually begins in the saphenous vein, which is designed to collect and transport blood from the surface veins into the deep veins on its path to the heart. When veins become enlarged to more than 4mm in diameter they are classified as varicose. As they swell, the veins stretch and may become twisted and visibly knotted. The pooling of blood in the veins causes pain and fatigue in the legs and may result in ankle swelling.
What are the symptoms of varicose veins?
Symptoms include aching legs, burning and itching around the vein, swelling, and in some severe cases, ulceration and bleeding. Removing the varicose veins increases circulation in the leg and eliminates the symptoms.
Why do compression stockings help?
Graduated compression stockings apply maximum pressure at the ankles with lessening degrees of compression up the length of the leg. The pressure forces the blood from surface veins back into the deep vein system so it can be carried back to the heart. This reduces the pooling of blood in the damaged veins.
Wearing compression stockings is the first step you can take to prevent vein problems from developing or getting worse. Your insurance company may require you to wear compresssion stockings for a period of time before approving payment for a procedure.
There are stockings for every lifestyle: sheer dressy hosiery in skin tones or fashion colors, knee-high, thigh-high, or pantyhose, opaque tights in footed or footless styles, and even performance-enhancing stockings for the competitive athlete.
For your convenience we sell stockings in our office at competitive prices or you may buy them from a health supply retailer.
Pregnant women can help prevent development of varicose veins by using stockings during pregnancy. We offer a free pair of knee high or thigh high compression stockings to any expectant or new mom, your choice up to a $40 value. Limit one per person; no obligation. Simply call our office to set up a free fitting and choose your stockings. For more information on pregnancy and veins, CLICK HERE.
How serious are varicose veins?
Some vein sufferers have a difficult time getting through a day of work that involves walking or plolonged standing. For many, the pain or embarrassment of varicose veins causes them to forego recreational activities they could be enjoying, limiting lifestyle and making it more difficult to stay fit and healthy.
Varicose veins are not life-threatening, but they don’t go away on their own. Without treatment, varicose veins are likely to worsen. They can develop into more serious conditions such as chronic edema (swelling), phlebitis (inflammation), leg ulcers (open sores), and thrombosis (blood clots).
Technology has made hospitalization and major surgery unnecessary, even for bulging varicose veins. Optimum in-office treatments vary from patient to patient. Physician qualifications also vary. It is important to select a physician who is specifically trained and experienced in treatment of vein disorders (phlebology) with the expertise to provide the best treatment for your individual situation.