Thursday, June 2, 2016

Plain talk about varicose veins

Varicose veins aren’t pretty, but they can be more than a cosmetic concern. Twisted, enlarged veins near the skin’s surface can cause leg pains, including aching, cramping, burning, numbness, tingling and restless legs.

Because symptoms develop over time, many people don’t feel a sense of urgency to see a doctor. It’s important to know that varicose veins and other vein issues can be a sign of venous disease that can get worse as we age.  

“Fewer than four percent of those with venous disease have been treated,” says board certified vascular surgeon Dr. Robert Vorhies. “That’s a concern. Because if venous disease is left untreated, there can be increased risk for blood clots, formation of ulcers and changes in the color of your skin.” 

Diseases of the veins are much more common than arterial disease and can be hereditary. Dr. Vorhies says 89 percent of patients have venous disease if both parents had vein problems. Issues with veins can occur in people in their teens to their 90s. Women are three times more likely than men to develop varicose veins. 

“Other factors and causes include pregnancy, obesity, trauma and sitting or standing for prolonged periods of time,” says Dr. Vorhies. 

In a healthy vascular system, valve leaflets along the walls of our veins allow blood to flow back up to the heart from our extremities. In venous disease, those valves fail to close when the vein walls are dilated, causing a pooling of blood in the legs. This leads to bulging of the branches of the larger veins. Compression hose can provide some relief but they do not cure venous disease. 

There is good news

Fortunately, several treatment options for varicose veins and smaller spider veins can relieve symptoms, improve appearance and prevent future complications. Treatments can be conducted in the outpatient setting using local anesthesia in less than an hour, with minimal recovery time. These therapies have a high success rate and the results can be dramatic. 

If you have a concern about your vein health, Dr. Vorhies is available for a consultation and can discuss treatment options that are right for you. Call 417-269-7444.