The lowdown on varicose veins
BY KARLA TECSON
The cold and chilly Christmas season may be here, but wearing stylish short skirts and shorts isn’t going out of style. So what’s stopping you from showcasing those stunning legs? Could it be the presence of unsightly and bumpy lines that seem to snake along your calves?
Don’t fret, you’re not alone. Before you resort to donning pants or long dresses for your holiday parties and reunions, we’ll give you the long and short of varicose veins to help you show off those sexy limbs soon.
Veins are blood vessels found all over our body, tasked to return deoxygenated blood from other parts of the body to the heart and lung for oxygenation, according to Dr. Rosary May B. Canay-Diaz, DPAAAMI, DPAPSHPI, FPAAS. Once these veins become abnormally thick, enlarged, and somewhat began twisting, they are then called varicose veins or varicosities, she explains.
Normally sporting a blue or red hue, varicose veins are commonly found on the top part of the feet, lower legs, and thighs. When you notice that there is a bulge on your skin with reddish or bluish in color, when your legs often ache, feeling heavy or crampy after a long period of standing, you may already have varicose veins.
“It should be understood that legs are divided into superficial veins and deep veins. Superficial veins are those found just beneath the skin. Deep veins, on the other hand, are encased by muscles and connective tissues of the lower extremities pumping blood from the lower extremities back to the heart,” says Dr. Canay-Diaz, the medical director of Californian Bloom, a dermatology, slimming, laser and aesthetic surgicenter.
Between the two, superficial veins are more prone to varicosities, she adds.
VEIN THERE, CRAMP THAT
Developing varicose veins are usually inherited, Dr. Canay-Diaz says. It becomes prominent as the patients age, but the condition may also be caused by other contributing factors.
Pregnant women particularly have higher chances of having varicose veins, because of added pressure on the veins on legs by the weight of the growing uterus and hormonal effect of estrogen and progesterone. People whose jobs require prolonged standing, obese individuals, or those from the older set are also likely candidates for varicose veins, due to increased laxity of valves in their veins.
According to Dr. Canay-Diaz, women are more prone to varicose veins especially pregnant ones due to hormonal factors. However, men can also have it due to their activities or occupation.
“Elderly people are more prone since the valves of their veins are prone to relaxation thus there will be pooling of blood in the lower extremities resulting to varicosities,” she notes.
GIVE YOUR LEGS A BREAK
Because varicose veins can be painful, Dr. Canay-Diaz says there are some ways you can do to offer a respite for your legs. “Elevation of the leg is the primary relief and prevention of varicosities. If it’s possible, make it higher than the level of the heart for thirty minutes each time,” Dr. Canay-Diaz recommends.
She also suggests wearing compression stockings to combat pain and swelling caused by varicose veins. “Put it on in the morning before walking around and before veins become enlarged and swollen, Dr. Canay-Diaz says.
Speaking of things to be worn, she also cautions about garbing yourself with tight clothing around the abdominal area. Another thing to avoid, according to Dr. Canay-Diaz? Hold that beer – she advises to limit the intake of alcohol beverages as these dilate blood vessels.
When it comes to preventing varicose veins, you can be bid one ladylike behavior goodbye. Dr. Canay-Diaz cautions women from crossing their legs while sitting, as this is a common cause of varicosities.
She warns that when pain begins to be felt in these varicosities, it is time to seek medical help. Thanks to modern science, more options are now available for those suffering from varicose veins, such as schlerotherapy, laser treatment, and vein stripping.
“Schlerotherapy is the treatment option for veins of less than 8mm, usually 3mm to 4mm, with symptoms of pain. It involves injecting a sclerosing agent intravenously that obliterates and causes the target vein to scar. After schlerotherapy, wearing of bandages and compression stocking is required for three weeks,” Dr. Canay-Diaz explains.
For varicose veins measuring 1mm to 2mm in diameter, laser is the way to go, she says. This is especially the treatment of choice for conditions often referred to as spider veins or telangiectasia. Meanwhile, vein stripping and avulsion are the surgical options for patients whose pain are not relieved by both.
While the phrase “prevention is better than cure,” is often considered a cliché, it holds true when it comes to varicose veins.
To prevent having varicosities, Dr. Canay-Diaz reiterates the importance of elevating legs while at rest, limiting alcoholic beverages and wearing loose clothes in the abdominal part. She also advises to keep weight under control, get more active, and do some forms of exercise, as well as maintain a fiber-rich diet.