The increasingly sedentary lifestyles we lead today have brought health problems, not just those related to obesity and heart disease, but also those that affect our legs.
Varicose veins, which affect our legs, are abnormally thick, full of twists and turns, or enlarged. According to Dr Kumar Pandey, a cardio-vascular and thoracic surgeon, lack of regular exercise and long hours of continuous sitting cause the development of varicose veins.
“Women, especially during pregnancy and after delivery, are prone to develop varicose veins, which if not treated, can lead to non-healing ulcers in the legs or deformity,” says Dr Pandey.
The doctor says varicose veins remain a challenge since many of those who are affected do not know where to get treatment. “Computer professionals, office clerks, receptionists, shopkeepers, and other people who do not walk a lot are most at risk of developing varicose veins,” he says.
What causes varicose veins?
The legs, just like any other part of the body, get uninterrupted pure blood supply through the arteries. The pure blood supply oxygen is consumed during walking. After the leg muscles have used the oxygen, the blood in the legs becomes impure due to depleted oxygen content.
This blood needs replenishing with oxygen in order to circulate again and supply oxygen to the legs. To replenish the oxygen, the impure blood must leave the legs and reach the lungs through the heart. After purification, the blood will return into circulation through the heart and again enter the legs through the arteries.
If the blood pools in the legs and does not ascend to reach the lungs, it will keep on collecting inside the legs and start filling veins under the skin. These veins will start dilating due to the abnormal filling and become visible on the skin, appearing like a spider.
How do you identify varicose veins?
Veins that are earthworm - or spider-like in the legs are likely to be varicose veins. If you develop leg swellings or pain after a moderate walk, then red patches and prominent blue-coloured veins, you should see a doctor to check if you have developed varicose veins.
What is the treatment for varicose veins?
In the early stages, they can be reverted by change of lifestyle. You have to walk regularly and exercise. Walk for at least two hours in a day and avoid sitting or standing still for more than an hour. You have to reduce your weight, too. A patient with varicose veins needs to visit a vascular specialist every two months.
Fully developed varicose veins require conventional surgery or laser radiofrequency ablation. You need to visit a vascular surgeon who is equipped for such surgeries. It should be noted that varicose veins treatment does not require the services of a skin or bone specialist.
What is the difference between surgery and laser technique?
Surgery is done by cutting the skin and cleaning the veins, while in the laser technique, radioactive rays are used. A patient should discuss with a vascular surgeon whichever mode of treatment, depending on the level of damage and the patient’s preference. The doctor will have to also consider other factors like pre-existing medical conditions before treating the veins.