Treating enlarged leg veins can improve their appearance and reduce the risk of swelling, aching, and other problems.
If you have varicose veins — those dark blue or purple leg veins that bulge above the skin’s surface — you may dread wearing beachwear and other clothes that expose your legs. With summer just a few months away, this may be a good time to do something about that. But it’s not just a cosmetic consideration. Varicose veins can cause pain and discomfort and even, in rare cases, bleeding leg sores. Treating enlarged leg veins can relieve discomfort and prevent complications.
The older, surgical treatment for varicose veins was “stripping” — removing leg veins through incisions under general anesthesia. Surgery has been largely replaced by less invasive options that include injections, laser, and radiofrequency energy. Growing numbers of vein treatment centers throughout the United States are making these treatments available to more women. The approach that’s best for you depends on the size, type, and location of your varicose veins.
Weak valves, pooling blood
Leg veins have a tough job: they must propel oxygen-depleted blood all the way back to your heart, working against gravity and the pressure of your body weight. These veins have one-way valves that prevent blood from flowing backward (see “Anatomy of a varicose leg vein”), but the valves can weaken and stop working properly, especially as we age. As a result of these changes, blood can pool in the veins immediately under the skin, causing them to enlarge and become less elastic.
Read more at Harvard Health PublishingShare