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Varicose veins are twisted veins that can be blue, red, or skin-colored. The larger veins may appear rope like and make the skin bulge out.
Varicose veins are often on the thighs, the backs and fronts of the calves, or the inside of the legs near the ankles and feet. During pregnancy, varicose veins can happen around the inner thigh, lower pelvic area, and buttocks. Spider veins, or thread veins, are smaller than varicose veins. They are usually red. They may look like tree branches or spider webs. Spider veins can usually be seen under the skin, but they do not make the skin bulge out like varicose veins do.
You may be at increased risk for varicose veins if you are older, sit or stand for long periods, have an inactive lifestyle, have overweight or obesity, or have a family history of varicose veins or deep vein thrombosis, a type of venous thromboembolism. Pregnancy and childbirth, especially multiple births, also increase a woman’s risk.
Signs and symptoms include bulging, bluish veins; swelling; aching pain; a feeling of heaviness in the legs and feet; itching; changes in color; and nighttime leg cramps.
Approximately 23% of US adults have varicose veins. Generally more common in women and older adults, varicose veins affect 22 million women and 11 million men between the ages of 40 to 80 years. Of these, 2 million men and women will develop symptoms and signs of chronic venous insufficiency, including venous ulceration.
You may not be able to prevent varicose veins and spider veins, especially if they usually happen in your family or when you are pregnant. There are other parts of your life that you cannot control, such as getting older, that can also contribute to varicose veins and spider veins.
There are steps you can take at home, like exercising and losing extra weight, that can make you healthier and may prevent new varicose veins or spider veins from forming. These steps may also help your legs feel better by relieving pain and discomfort.
Most varicose veins and spider veins do not cause any health problems. Larger varicose veins may cause aching, throbbing, and discomfort, especially after you have been sitting or standing for long periods of time.
Sometimes, varicose veins can lead to more serious health problems, including:
* Sores or skin ulcers caused by long-term collection of blood in the veins. These sores or ulcers are painful and difficult to heal. You may need special care to treat these sores or ulcers.
* Bleeding from damage to the vein. The skin over varicose veins can become thin and easily hurt. Any injury to the vein can cause bleeding.
* Superficial thrombophlebitis, or blood clots that form in veins just below the skin. These types of blood clots can cause skin redness; a firm, tender, warm vein; and pain and swelling.
* Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or blood clots in veins that are deeper under the skin. You may not have any signs or symptoms of DVT, or the blood clot may cause pain, swelling, warmth, and a "pulling" feeling in the calf. Sitting still for a long time, such as when you are traveling more than 8 hours, may increase your risk of a blood clot. The blood clot can then break off and travel to the lungs. It can cause a blockage in the lungs, called a pulmonary embolism, that makes it difficult to breathe, speeds up your heartbeat, and causes chest pain. It can also lead to death.
Medicare & most major insurances cover varicose vein treatment.
Conservative therapy, which includes wearing medical grade compression stockings, losing excess weight, and elevating legs is a common requirement prior to treatment approval from Medicare or other insurances.
Although there is a very high success rate with current vein treatments, there is no treatment to prevent new veins from becoming varicose. To help aid in lessening the chance of new varicose veins from forming, it is important to take preventative measures by elevating legs often and wearing compression stockings during the day.
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