Here is the thing: you could have varicose veins and not even realize it.
While we associate the term varicose veins with the really obvious blue and twisty bulges that make our legs look like road maps, this is not always the case.
Varicose veins occur when the valves in the veins—designed to prevent the back flow of blood when the heart is in its contraction stage—fail. And, when that happens, the blood that was destined for the heart to be pumped back to the lungs for re-oxygenation and redistribution, well, it starts to pool anywhere gravity will take it.
Whether these compromised veins become visible on the skin surface depends on how much fat and other tissue lies in between, and how strong that tissue is. This is largely a function of genetics, including ethnicity; Caucasians are more likely to suffer from varicose vein symptoms than their African-American, Asian or Hispanic neighbors. And younger people are also at risk. These leg veins may bulge through the skin later in life, when time and gravity have taken their toll. Until then they may appear only as blue-green streaks.
Either way, as pressure builds within the venous walls, and agents of inflammation start to gather, the condition can progress. Blood clots can become an issue, as can chronic venous insufficiency, and leg ulcerations. You should consider having your vascular health checked by a qualified vein specialist if you are experiencing any of these symptoms:
Vein specialists like Dr. Hardeep Ahluwalia gets concerned when people don’t pay attention to their vascular health. “Leaving varicose veins untreated isn’t simply a cosmetic concern,” he says. “There can be medical repercussions, as well.”
Closer to home, Jilanne Rose, DNP-C vein specialist at Advanced Vein Institute of Arizona (AVIA), has seen first-hand how much quality of life can be improved in people who have suffered from the symptoms of varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency. Yet only a small percentage of these individuals seek treatment. She thinks this fact may be related to the number of people who associate “varicose vein treatment” with “leg vein surgery,” the stripping and ligation techniques that were used on their grandmothers.
“Those techniques were barbaric, they were painful, and they were resource intensive,” Dr. Rose says, noting that they would require hospital stays of several weeks. “Today’s varicose vein treatments are safe, they are minimally invasive, and they can be done in an afternoon in your vein specialist’s office. It is really exciting to see the quality of people’s lives and health improved in such a short time.”
If you are concerned that varicose veins—visible and otherwise—are affecting the quality of your life, consider consulting with a qualified vein specialist. Using duplex ultrasonography, and a thorough examination, your vein specialist can tailor a treatment plan that will take away your leg pain and have you feeling positive about your vascular health in very little time.