A comfortable & sedentary lifestyle, modern fashion and special postures adopted while performing professional duties have contributed to increased incidence of a set of diseases unheard of in the past. Varicose veins are one of them and is a direct result of a sedentary life style, adopted by modern youth. Varicose veins have become very common at present. According to an estimate, 15 to 20 per cent of the population in our country (India) is suffering from varicose veins
Ladies suffer from varicose veins four times more than their male counterparts. There is an increased risk among young females of developing varicose, especially those who wear tight jeans and high-heeled sandals.
Varicose veins are actually abnormal veins lying just beneath the skin of your leg and thigh. These varicose veins are prominently visible, corkscrew like, entangled in one another. It looks as if a number of earthworms or blue-coloured spiders are lying under skin of your leg. In these veins, the mechanism of carrying impure blood from lower limb back to heart gets deranged either due to defective valves of vein or the absence of valves by birth. The function of these valves is to control blood flow in the veins.
Veins are those blood pipes, which collect impure blood from your lower limbs and carry it back to the heart and then the lungs for purification. The ob of vein is difficult, as it has to push blood upwards from leg against gravity towards the heart. This function of the vein is made possible by valves which open up and allow blood to flow only in one direction. But when a person stands up these valves close to prevent blood from flowing towards the feet. In other words these valves of veins constantly maintain a unidirectional flow of blood that is always towards the heart. When these valves are absent or become defective, these varicose veins fail to control the blood flow in a one-way direction and in the process become dilated and swollen under the skin due to high back pressure. This results into pooling of impure blood in the feet.
View from the surface
Varicose veins cause permanent swelling and heaviness in the feet. The skin in the leg develops black or blue coloured patches. In the thighs and legs, under the skin, develops snake or earthworm like blue coloured veins, resulting in the legs and feet being distorted.
A person suffering from varicose vein, develops pain in foot and leg while walking or on standing for prolonged periods. If varicose veins are not treated effectively, skin in the leg will develop eczema and an ulcer that never heals. These ulcers caused by varicose veins are called varicose ulcers.
Sometimes massive bleeding occurs as a result of varicose ulcers. Ultimately, the person is forced to become disabled.
In 40 % of the patients, varicose veins occur due to hereditary reasons and is present in families for many generations. The other important causative factors are obesity, lack of exercises, abnormal pressure on veins during pregnancy, abnormal lifestyle, prolonged standing and prolonged sitting with legs down. Due to the advances human have made, being overweight and lack of exercises, veins in the legs become very weak. They therefore develop into varicose veins. Due to obesity, a lot of fat gets deposited in the leg. This weakens the support system in veins and result in veins becoming dilated and tortuous.
In the modern age, many occupations have sprung up where a person is required to either constantly standup for a long time or made to sit with legs hanging down for a considerable time. Computer professionals, receptionists, security guards, traffic policemen, salesmen working at counters in shops and departmental stores and persons doing desk jobs day in and day out are the worst sufferers of varicose veins. A previous fracture in a bone during road traffic accidents, previous deep veins thrombosis or a previous incidence of clotting in the veins are significant contributors to developing varicose veins and varicose ulcer.
Among females, due to some hormones, the veins in the walls become enlarged and dilated. Besides, during pregnancy, because of lot of pressure on the veins in the legs, they (veins) become weak and varicosed. In the majority of women, after delivery, varicosity disappears on its own and veins assume the normal diameter and shape. In some ladies, due to tumor of uterus or tumor in the abdomen, varicose veins are likely to develop. One should be vigilant during such times.
Fashion creates havoc in ladies. High heeled sandals, tight belts and panties are significant contributors to developing of varicose veins, as these items obstruct the normal flow of blood in the veins.
Here’s what to do
In our country people are quite ignorant of this disease. Patients with varicose veins, largely due to ignorance, either go to a general surgeon, a general physician or a bone specialist for consultation. When varicose veins get complicated and turns into a varicose ulcer, these patients then go to either a skin specialist or a homoeopath for treatment of so-called eczema & skin problem. Sometimes varicose veins are misdiagnosed as arthritis or sciatica. Because of misdiagnosis, a patient with Varicose Veins keeps shuffling from one specialist to another. This leads to a considerable delay in treatment and the disability increases.
If any person is having blue colored visible spider-like veins or blue- colored long threads under skin and dark colored patches or ulcer in legs, immediately consult a Cardiovascular or a Vascular Surgeon instead of a general surgeon. If the suspicion of varicose veins arises, never delay in seeking consultation and treatment by a Vascular Surgeon, because timely intervention may prevent further complications.
Treatment for Varicose Veins
For the effective treatment of Varicose Veins, seek a hospital where services of a full-time Vascular are available
In the early stages of Varicose Veins, exercise and sometimes medical treatment including sclerotherapy suffice.
In advanced stages of Varicose Veins, surgery is required. There are various surgical treatments, like phlebectomy and vein stripping. In phlebectomy, small- sized varicose vein are removed while in stripping long- sized Varicose Veins are removed. There are no harmful effects on the body or legs after removal of Varicose Veins.
Sometimes special techniques like endoscopy are used during Varicose Veins operations, especially in cases of Varicose Ulcer. In this technique, the connecting channels are tied under endoscopic vision to prevent pooling of impure blood in the feet, which minimizes the chances of ulcers from recurring.
At present, new techniques like laser treatment (EVLT) as well as radio frequency ablation technique (RFA) are also employed during Varicose Veins treatment, which drastically shortens the duration in hospital and significantly minimizes the number of cuts in the skin. Almost no stitches are required when using these techniques. The patient can return home the next day and resume his office work soon afterwards.