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What are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are swollen veins that sometimes look like cords. They often appear on the legs and feet but can appear on the vagina and buttocks during pregnancy. Some are visible through the skin, while others are not as easy to detect.
Varicose veins develop over time. If left untreated, they can lead to pain and swelling in the affected area and skin changes, such as rash and lesions. Varicose veins can also lead to more serious conditions, such as venous stasis (swelling of feet, ankles and legs that worsen with leg elevation) or deep vein thrombosis (blood clot in a deep vein). Varicose veins are more common in people over the age of 50 and affect women more than men.
Varicose veins are caused by damaged valves in the veins. When you are in an upright position, the blood in your veins has to travel upwards, against gravity, toward your heart. Veins carry blood to the heart through a series of valves that open to push blood up toward the heart. When these valves become impaired or weakened, blood flows downward and pools, causing the veins to enlarge.
Varicose veins most often appear in the legs due to increased blood pressure inside the superficial veins. The veins in your legs must work extra hard to push blood up toward the heart. This increased blood pressure in addition to other risk factors causes veins to weaken and become damaged.
Risk factors that contribute to varicose veins are:
Many of these risk factors can be reduced or eliminated by changing your lifestyle.
Symptoms of varicose veins include:
You should consult your doctor if you notice the veins have become red or tender to the touch, if you develop skin changes or if one of your veins begins to bleed. Any symptom that interferes with your everyday life should be evaluated.
Your physician will conduct a history and physical, which includes questions about your health and an evaluation of your symptoms. You may also undergo diagnostic tests.
The following tests can be used to diagnose varicose veins:
Varicose veins can sometimes be treated with lifestyle modifications, such as leg elevation, losing weight or avoiding long periods of sitting or standing. Compression stockings can be worn to apply even pressure on the affected area, relieving symptoms and preventing complications. Varicose veins may also be treated with various procedures and surgeries.
Varicose Vein Surgery
Since The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center is an academic medical center, our patients benefit from innovative research, a depth of medical expertise and the newest technologies and treatment techniques available.
We offer all available minimally invasive techniques for treatment of varicose veins, including endovenous laser therapy, radiofrequency ablation, sclerotherapy, and also phlebectomy. We perform these procedures on many patients in our outpatient clinic, allowing for convenience, a quick visit, and short recovery time.
Treatment for varicose veins used to involve stripping the veins from the legs. Patrick Vaccaro, MD, Director of Vascular Diseases and Surgery at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, explains the new treatment which involves ablation with a laser or radio frequency catheter to close the vein from within.
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