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Vein Care - How to Prevent and Treat Varicose Veins

Feb 24

Varicose veins are twisted, ropelike veins in the legs and feet. They often aren't painful, but over time they can cause swelling and tenderness. Over-the-counter and prescription pain relievers can help reduce swelling and discomfort. Vein Care Center may recommend lifestyle changes and compression therapy to treat your varicose veins. He or she may also recommend a procedure or surgery to eliminate your varicose veins.

The good news is that you can prevent or delay the progression of varicose veins with changes to your daily routine. A healthy diet and regular exercise can help improve blood flow in the body and reduce symptoms of varicose veins.

Blood in your legs moves upward toward your heart with the help of one-way valves that prevent blood from flowing backward (A). In a varicose vein, these valves don't close properly, and the blood pools in the vein and enlarges it. You can help improve blood flow in your legs by elevating them for 30 minutes or more three times a day and stretching and walking frequently. You should also avoid tight clothing that puts pressure on your leg veins and wear comfortable shoes. Keeping yourself well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water and avoiding drinks that can dehydrate you, such as alcohol and caffeine, can also help with circulation.

Some people get varicose veins because of genetics and age. Over time, the lining of the veins wears out, and this can lead to damage to the valves and walls of the veins. Other causes include pregnancy, long periods of sitting or standing at work, and hormonal changes, such as those occurring during menopause. The risk for developing varicose veins also increases with a family history of the condition.

Symptoms of varicose veins typically include swelling of the leg or groin area and a change in skin color. You should call your provider right away if you have pain in the calf or back of the knee, or if you have open sores that won't heal. You should also call your doctor if you have sudden chest pain or shortness of breath, or if your varicose veins bleed.

If your varicose veins don't respond to lifestyle changes and over-the-counter pain relievers, your provider may prescribe stronger medication or a more aggressive treatment. You may need to undergo ultrasound and/or other imaging tests to determine the extent of your varicose veins. Some procedures to eliminate varicose veins include radiofrequency ablation, laser ablation and sclerotherapy.

Vein treatments can be performed by doctors in many specialties, including dermatologists, interventional radiologists and vascular surgeons. They can be done in a doctor's office, a hospital or a medical center. Before you have a vein procedure, ask your doctor about his or her credentials and experience. You should also find out if your doctor is certified by a professional organization that regulates the practice of medicine in your state or country. You can also check with your insurance provider about the physician's qualifications to perform the procedure.