Risk Factors for Varicose Veins

Varicose veins, those unsightly twisted, bulging lines on your legs, typically aren’t dangerous, but they can be embarrassing. Complications from these visible veins are rare, but in some cases, they can turn painful and itchy, bleed, or form ulcers or blood clots.

Some people are more susceptible to developing varicose veins, and if you’re one of them, we can help. At Louisiana Cardiovascular and Thoracic Institute in Alexandria, we offer advanced vein treatments to get rid of your varicose veins, eliminate the symptoms, and help you avoid possible complications.

What are varicose veins?

Varicose veins are an indication that the valves inside are damaged or faulty. The veins’ main job is to return blood to your heart after it has traveled throughout your body delivering oxygen and nutrients.

This task becomes a bit challenging when your veins have to transport the blood from your feet and up the length of your body while working against gravity. Fortunately, each vein has tiny one-way valves inside that prevent blood from flowing backward.

If those valves fail, blood pools in one place and becomes visible through your skin. Over time, they may begin to bulge and become twisted. If this happens close to the surface of your skin, you may notice some bleeding or you may develop an open wound called an ulcer.

When valves fail in veins that are deep within your leg, you may notice swelling and leg pain. These are all signs that you need to see us right away.

Are you at risk for varicose veins?

Anyone can get varicose veins. About 23% of American adults sport a few of these tangled, visible veins, and if you count spider veins, too, the number increases to 80% of men and 85% of women. Even though those stats suggest you may be doomed to suffer from damaged vein valves, there are steps you can take to prevent this eventuality, or at least reduce your likelihood.

The first thing you need to do is find out whether you’re in a high-risk group. Here are the factors that qualify you:

  • Being female
  • Standing or sitting for prolonged periods
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Being exceptionally tall
  • Advanced age
  • Family history of varicose veins
  • Congenital conditions

Some of these factors are out of your control. Women are more likely than men to develop varicose veins because the hormonal changes that occur during menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause relax the vein walls.

If varicose veins run in your family or if you suffer from a genetic disorder, it may increase your chances as well.

Some factors, however, are controllable, such as your choice to smoke, which damages your blood vessels. If you’re overweight, the extra pounds put excess pressure on your veins and may damage the walls and valves, so losing weight can alleviate the problem.

If you must stand or sit for hours at a time, make sure to take frequent breaks to keep the blood flowing.

Getting rid of varicose veins

Whether your varicose veins are causing you discomfort or you just don’t like the look of them, I can get rid of them with a minimally invasive procedure called endovenous laser treatment (EVLT).

I give you a local anesthetic to numb your skin and make a very tiny incision. Using ultrasound to guide me, I insert a slender catheter into your varicose vein, then I activate the radiofrequency energy. As I withdraw the catheter, the tip emits the RF energy and seals the vein along the exit path.

In time, the damaged vein tissue shrivels and deteriorates until your body absorbs it and flushes it away. Meanwhile, your blood gets redirected to healthier nearby veins, and your varicose vein problem is over.

But take care, because they will return if you don’t improve your circulation. To find out if you’re likely to get varicose veins or to schedule an EVLT treatment for existing varicose veins, call us or book an appointment online today.