Even if you don’t know what a varicose vein is, chances are you’ve seen them before, either on a friend, relative, or yourself. Varicose veins occur when your veins become enlarged, dilated and overfilled with blood. They’re usually a blueish-purple or red color and can appear swollen or raised. For some people varicose veins are simply an inconvenience, but they can also be painful.
Veins have one-way valves that prevent blood from flowing backward. When the vein doesn’t function properly, blood begins to collect, causing varicose veins. They’re most common in the legs for a couple of reasons; your legs are farthest from your heart and gravity is working against your veins as they’re pushing the blood upward.
Common causes for varicose veins include:
• Pregnancy – as blood volume increases during pregnancy, the flow of blood also decreases from your legs to your pelvis. This is great for the growing fetus, but can produce enlarged veins in the legs.
• Standing for long periods of time
• Obesity – adds weight to the body and increases pressure on legs
• Chronic heart valve conditions
• Age – veins lose elasticity as you get older, causing them to stretch. Valves in your veins can become weak and allow blood to flow backward.
Varicose veins are an incredibly common condition, affecting half of all Americans over the age of 50. Women in particular are more susceptible to varicose veins. If you have visible, misshapen veins that are causing pain, swelling or achiness, talk to your doctor about proper treatment. Your doctor may want to perform an ultrasound to check your blood flow to make an informed decision about your next steps.
At Coastal Vein Institute, a division of Coastal Vascular and Interventional, our mission is to provide the highest quality care with the most advanced technology available in vein treatment. Our Vascular Specialists perform thousands of procedures annually for patients with a range of vascular disorders at eleven hospitals, our state-of-the-art outpatient center, and thirteen office locations along the Gulf Coast of Alabama and Florida. For a free, online vein evaluation, visit www.myveinscreening.com, call 850-912-8249, or go to www.coastalveininstitute.com for more information about our physicians, locations, and treatment options.