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Exploring the Causes and Treatments of Varicose Veins

Veins are essential tubes in our bodies that relay blood cells back to the heart, keeping us alive. While we all have veins inside us, some are more visible than others, depending on their size, location, and our genes. That said, no veins are more noticeable than varicose veins. These enlarged veins, typically found in the legs, protrude from underneath the skin and often look blue or purple. While varicose veins are rarely dangerous to those who have them, they can lead to some discomfort and embarrassment. Here we will go over what causes this condition and how it can be treated.

What Causes Varicose Veins?

Like so many skin conditions, the exact cause of varicose veins remains unknown. That said, doctors understand the mechanism that leads to varicose veins. The main culprit is damage to the valves inside veins that allow blood cells to pass through tissue and get propelled back to the heart. When these valves get closed off or fail to open properly, blood can build up in the veins and eventually contorts the veins themselves. This often happens to veins in the legs because more force is required to pump this blood upward against gravity.

An excess of pressure on these veins may play a role in deterring proper valve function. Additionally, valves get worn down as people age, making them less useful. Therefore, those who are older, pregnant, overweight, or who must stand up for an extended amount of time experience varicose veins more frequently than others.

Treatments for Varicose Veins

Unless varicose veins are causing severe discomfort or pain, treatment isn’t necessary. However, many people dislike the way these veins look and may seek treatment for cosmetic reasons. The good news is that treating most cases of varicose veins is often easy and patients can get back to their lives shortly after. Severe cases may require more invasive treatments, however.

Compression Stockings

These useful socks can be purchased over the counter from most stores that carry medical products. They gently squeeze one’s legs to stimulate blood flow and gradually reduce the size and appearance of varicose veins. If the products on the shelf aren’t effective, higher-strength compression stockings can be prescribed by your doctor or dermatologist, too.


Sclerotherapy is a proven effective treatment for varicose veins. The doctor injects a saline solution into the enlarged veins, which helps to collapse the vein. Then, over the course of two to three weeks, the veins will fade and turn into scar tissue. In most cases, multiple sclerotherapy treatments are required to get rid of all or most of the varicose veins.

Vein Stripping

Vein stripping involves accessing the vein itself and closing it off by tying it. This only requires minor incisions, and patients can typically go back home right after the procedure.

Laser Treatments

Laser treatment is a newer but promising development for treating varicose veins. With this procedure, light energy via a laser is directed toward varicose veins in an effort to close them up. This is, of course, less invasive than other varicose veins treatments like sclerotherapy or vein stripping.

Catheter-Assisted Radiofrequency Treatments

For larger, severe varicose veins, doctors may employ this treatment method. A catheter is inserted into the large vein and heated by a laser or via radio waves. The heat seals the vein upon removal, and it will then fade over time.

Ambulatory Phlebectomy

Smaller varicose veins can be removed by merely poking at the skin the right way. That’s basically how an ambulatory phlebectomy works. The skin is punctured over the unwanted veins and they’re effectively removed.

Endoscopic Varicose Vein Surgery

As a last resort in the most severe and complicated cases, varicose vein surgery might be necessary. During endoscopic varicose vein surgery, the doctor actually inserts a camera into the skin to get a closer look at the veins and precisely shut and remove them.

Varicose veins can be a pain to deal with, if not physically then mentally. You can help prevent the onset of these veins by exercising, not standing for too long at a time, avoiding tight-fitting clothes, and losing weight. If you want to remove those visible veins immediately, talk to your doctor about your treatment options. Here at Southeast Dermatology Specialists, we’re happy to give you more insights into varicose veins and how to handle them. Contact us to learn more about our services and providers.

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