Varicose veins can usually be diagnosed on physical examination. Sometimes tests are useful to determine the extent of disease. An ultrasound can check the structure of the veins, blood flow, and look for blood clots. Rarely, a venogram is ordered. Dye is infused into the veins for a better picture of blood flow than ultrasound can provide. Care usually starts with seeing a personal or family physician, who may refer a specialist. There are several types of doctors who care for varicose and spider veins, including:
- Phlebologist a vein specialist
- Vascular medicine focuses on the blood system
- Vascular surgeon who can perform surgery if necessary
- Dermatologist specializing in skin conditions
Varicose and spider veins are treated with lifestyle changes and medical procedures. The goal is to relieve symptoms, prevent complications and improve appearance. Lifestyle changes are recommended for disease with non or only mild symptoms, and more for severe symptoms, where medical treatments may be necessary.
Compression stockings put pressure on the veins. There are three types: support pantyhose, over-the-counter (OTC) gradient compression hose, and prescription-strength gradient compression stockings. Support pantyhose deliver the least amount of pressure, all over, instead of where it is needed most. OTC offer slightly greater pressure than pantyhose. Prescription-strength gradient compression hose deliver the greatest pressure. They require a trained person to fit the hose individually.
Sclerotherapy is the most common treatment for both spider and varicose veins. Its very effective when done correctly. The doctor uses a needle to inject a liquid chemical into the vein. It causes the vein walls to swell, stick together, and seal shut. The vein becomes scar tissue, which stops the flow of blood. Its done in a doctors office, doesnt require anesthesia, and normal activity can be resumed immediately. At times, the involved veins need more than one treatment. Treatments are usually done every 4-6 weeks. Gradiant compression stockings may be recommended to help with healing and decrease swelling. Side effects include:
- Stinging, red, raised patches of skin or bruises at the injection site. They disappear shortly after treatment.
- Spots, brown lines, or groups of fine-red blood vessels at the treatment site. They resolve right after treatment.
- Lumps of blood get trapped in the vein and cause inflammation. It isnt dangerous, but there may be swelling, which can improve by applying heat. A doctor can drain the blood, if necessary.
- There is a type of sclerotherapy in which ultrasound is used to guide the needle. It can be useful to treat veins which cannot be seen on the surface of the skin. It may be used after surgery or other treatments, if the vein returns.
Surface Laser Treatments
Laser treatments can be effective on spider veins and small varicose veins. The technique sends strong bursts of light into the vein, which causes the vein to fade and disappear. It isnt safe for some skin types. The heat from the laser can be painful. Cooling can reduce the pain. Treatments take 15-20 minutes; usually two to five treatments are needed. It is not effective for varicose veins larger than 3.0 mm (about a tenth of an inch.) It allows usual activity immediately. Side effects include:
- Redness or swelling, which quickly disappears.
- Discolored skin, which disappears in 1-2 months.
- Burns and scars from poorly performed laser surgery (rare).
Endovenous techniques (radiofrequency and laser), and surgical procedures are reserved for severe disease.
Not all spider and varicose veins are preventable, but there are some steps to take to prevent or minimize the appearance of new varicose or spider veins, and to care for your skin and health in general. Some of these measures can also help ease discomfort:
- Wear natural sunscreen (without parabens or petrochemicals) to protect your face and minimize spider veins on the face.
- Exercise regularly, focusing on exercising the legs. Running and walking are good exercises.
- Control weight to avoid too much pressure on the legs.
- Dont cross your legs for long periods of time while sitting. It can injure the legs. A minor injury increases risk of varicose veins.
- Elevate legs while resting
- Dont sit or stand for long periods of time. If spending considerable time standing is required, shift weight from one leg to the other every few minutes. With prolonged sitting, stand up and move around or take a brief walk every 30 minutes.
- Wear elastic support stockings.
- Avoid wearing high heels for long periods of time. Lower-heeled shoes can help tone the calf muscles for good blood flow.
- Eat a low-salt, high-fiber diet to help the swelling and avoid constipation.
- Take proper care of your skin it is your bodys largest organ. Avoid potentially harmful skincare ingredients, and instead use 100% pure botanical ingredients to moisturize, nourish and tone your skin. This will help it to maintain a youthful, healthy glow.
More Facts About Varicose Veins
More than half of people have varicose veins at age 50 and older. Its extremely rare for spider veins to lead to serious health problems.
If the vein becomes red, tender, or warm to the touch, bleeds, causes a rash or discolored skin, or if the veins are interfering with daily activities, a physician should evaluate the condition. Wear gradient-compression support stockings as much as possible. New spider veins and varicose veins can develop because there is no cure for weak valves.
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