what are varicose veinsVaricose, pronounced VAR-uh-kos, veins are enlarged, stretched, twisted and often bulging veins that are visible just under the surface of the skin. They are most often found in the legs, yet any vein has the potential to become swollen, or varicose.

Circulation begins with the pumping of your heart moving blood through every part of the body. Blood travels through tiny tubes, veins and arteries, running all the way from your nose to your toes. Arteries carry oxygenated blood from the lungs to tiny blood vessels called capillaries where it is delivered to the body’s tissues and the oxygen is pulled out. Veins have the important role of carrying de-oxygenated blood from the tissues in your body back to the heart. Once the blood is returned to the heart, it is pumped into the lungs for an oxygen refill and the process repeats.

Have you ever wondered why veins are blue or purple in color? Oxygenated blood leaving the lungs is bright red. This blood is carried through arteries deeper within the body. Once oxygen leaves the blood, entering the tissue, it turns dark or blue in color. The veins responsible for returning the deoxygenated blood to the heart are found closer to the skin’s surface thus explaining why your veins appear blue in color under your skin.

It is important to maintain blood flow in the right direction throughout the circulation process. One-way valves within the veins support correct circulation and if those become weakened or damaged, blood can become stagnant and pool in the veins causing undue pressure. This causes the veins to weaken and swell often leading to varicose veins.

There are many contributing factors causing a valve to dysfunction. Some people simply have leaky valves. Valves can also become damaged due to the normal wear and tear of aging. Excessive pressure on the veins can also be due to excess weight or prolonged sitting or standing. Hormonal changes, especially in women during pregnancy or while taking birth control pills, can also cause pressure on the veins.

A common complaint of varicose veins is the cosmetic appearance of the veins. Additional symptoms can including aching pain, swelling, fatigue and overall discomfort in the legs. The severity of varicose veins should be evaluated by a board certified vascular surgeon to prevent the development of more serious health concerns.

During the initial consultation, a physician will thoroughly examine your legs and feet while sitting and standing.  He is checking for tender areas, swelling, hyperpigmentation, and signs of skin breakdown. Additional diagnostic procedures may be ordered to determine if treatment is needed. The overall goal of treatment for varicose veins is to relieve symptoms, improve appearance and prevent further complications. Treatments are generally quick, easy and have minimal recovery time.

Often, physicians will recommend home treatment to reduce symptoms before a medical procedure. This may include:

  • Use of compression garments
  • Elevation of legs
  • Regular physical activity
  • Avoid prolonged periods of sitting or standing

If the severity of your varicose veins requires medical treatment, your options may include:

  • Sclerotherapy
  • Ambulatory Phlebectomy
  • Endovenous Laser Therapy
  • Radiofrequency Ablation Endovenous Therapy

If you are experiencing painful symptoms of varicose veins call Premier Vein Clinics at (865) 588-8229 and schedule a consult with one of our eight board-certified vascular surgeons. With a combined experience of over 125 years diagnosing and treating venous disease, you can count on the expert care of the physicians at Premier Vein Clinics to restore your healthy, good looking legs.

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