Have you recently discovered bulging veins in your legs? If so, you’re not alone. According to research, more than 40 million Americans suffer from bulging (varicose) veins. But what causes them?
In essence, unsightly bulging veins occur when excess blood collects or pools inside the veins. This is usually due to a malfunction in the valve contained inside the vein. When functioning properly the valve acts as a one-way flap which regulates the flow of blood through the venous system. When a valve fails to operate correctly the blood can’t flow through the vein and it collects (or pools) within. This, in turn, causes bulging veins in legs, arms, hands, etc.
The good news is that in many cases they are more of an unsightly aesthetic problem rather than a physical one and they don’t always indicate an underlying health problem. These include situations such as:
- Increased blood pressure due to increased or intense physical activity
- Low body fat
- Thin skin due to aging
Also, in some instances such as during and after pregnancy, it’s perfectly normal for some mothers to suffer from vein problems because of the increased blood flow in the body during pregnancy. The good news is that in most cases, veins will start to function again normally as the body returns to normal (usually within 12 months) and any snakelike blue or purple protrusions are no more.
That’s the good news….
The bad news is that in other cases they can cause problems including
- A heavy aching feeling in the affected area
- Vein hardening
In more severe cases they can also cause blood clots (thrombophlebitis), ulcers and bleeding (particularly in those with thin skin) when a vein bursts.
So that’s the lowdown on the causes and problems of building veins but can they be treated – and if so, how?
Simple lifestyle changes
Unsurprisingly perhaps, unsightly bulging veins can be reduced by making simple lifestyle changes. These include factors like watching your weight, eating healthier and increased gentle exercise. Also, sufferers may want to avoid standing or sitting for long periods and make use of a footrest when sitting to elevate the limbs slightly.
The wearing of compression stockings
Compression stockings or socks are designed to improve circulation and keep any blood that flows through the veins moving so that any possible pooling is reduced. Because stockings are fashioned to wrap tightly around the leg they provide an extra ‘squeeze’ to promote continuous blood movement
This is typically an outpatient treatment and involves making small holes in the skin and skilfully removing the problematic or bulging leg vein entirely through these holes. The procedure usually takes somewhere between 30 minutes to 1 hour and is both safe and low-risk
One of the most effective non-surgical treatments is sclerotherapy. It starts when an agent or solution (known as sclerosant) is directly injected into the problem vein. Over a short time, the solution is designed to destroy the damaged vein from within. The body then absorbs the damaged vein which will, in turn, utilize healthier veins to redirect any blood back to the heart.
A vein ablation is a modern technique that utilizes either a laser or radiofrequency ultrasound to seal or close the vein shut. As the vein is no longer in use (and similarly to the sclerotherapy technique) the vein turns to scar tissue as the body reabsorbs it. The blood is then redirected through healthy veins.
This is another type of vein closure system using a unique and minimally invasive treatment. This time, a small and measured amount of medical adhesive is directed into the vein effectively closing it off. Once the vein is closed off, blood is effectively re-routed through other healthy vein systems. Because no anesthetic is required for this treatment, patients can return to their normal activities right after treatment.
So there you have it…the causes and treatments relating to bulging veins in legs. While in the main, bulging veins are more of a cosmetic problem, they can in some instances be a sign of more serious health problems. For this reason, it’s always best to get them checked out by your local doctor or a vein specialist.
Here at the Midwest Institute for Non-Surgical Therapy (MINT), we use the latest gentle, non-evasive techniques to eradicate any leg vein problems. Dr. Akinwande is a highly-skilled vein specialist who provides the latest comfortable treatments with minimal waiting times.
If you have an unsightly or problematic bulging vein in your leg and feel you would like to do something about it, call Dr. Akinwande and the team at MINT STL at any one of our 3 convenient locations today.