Up to 35% of Americans are affected by varicose veins. If you’re in this category, it’s important to find out what’s causing your varicose veins so you can get them treated. The expert team at Melanie Adams Dermatology in Columbia, Maryland, can help.
A varicose vein is a vein that’s over-enlarged with blood. It can become swollen, twisted, and tender to the touch. These veins can occur anywhere in your body, but are most often found in the legs because standing, walking, and gravity increase the pressure in the veins in your legs.
Here’s a look at what causes varicose veins and how to treat them.
If you have varicose veins, you’ve possibly noticed an achy or heavy feeling in your legs, along with burning, throbbing, and swelling in your lower legs. Your symptoms may get worse after sitting or standing for a long time. The cause is usually weak or damaged valves in your veins.
Arteries carry blood away from your heart, and veins carry blood back to your heart. To do this, the veins in your legs have to work against gravity, so tiny, one-way valves in your veins keep the blood from flowing backward as muscle contractions pump the blood toward your heart.
In some cases, the valves fail, allowing blood to flow backward and pool in your veins, causing the veins to stretch, twist, and become enlarged.
Several risk factors make you more likely to develop varicose veins. If other family members had them, if you’re a woman, or if you’re older (wear-and-tear can cause valves to fail), your risk is greater. Pregnancy increases the volume of blood in your body, which can enlarge your veins.
Being overweight increases the pressure on your legs, and sitting or standing for long periods can keep your blood from flowing as well. Both of these factors raise your risk of varicose veins.
If you do have varicose veins, treatments are available. Your doctor likely starts with lifestyle changes — lose weight, exercise more, and avoid standing for long periods. Compression stockings can also help move the blood in your legs upward.
If these methods don’t help, Dr. Adams offers laser vein treatment, a safe, minimally invasive procedure that uses heat to damage unwanted varicose veins. Over time, the damaged vein closes and blood flow is redirected to a healthy vein. The unwanted vein eventually fades away.
You might need several laser vein treatments to address your unwanted varicose veins. The good news is that there’s little to no downtime with this procedure, and you can return to your daily routine immediately.
When you’re ready to treat your varicose veins, call the office of Melanie Adams Dermatology or request your appointment online.