Many people imagine varicose veins are a problem only older women face. But more than 40 million people of all ages in the United States suffer from this unsightly condition. Age does play a role in their development, but so do other factors like gender, weight, vocation, and genetics.
The bulging, twisted appearance of these bumpy veins makes the way they look embarrassing, causing people to cover up their legs and avoid revealing their skin in shorts, skirts, or bathing suits. But in addition to being a troublesome cosmetic issue, varicose veins can negatively affect your health.
Rashmi Sharma, MD, and the care team at Hamptons Vein & Vascular in Rutherford and Westfield, New Jersey, know varicose veins can happen to anyone and understand how they negatively impact your self-confidence and your health.
Dr. Sharma can eliminate problematic varicose veins using cutting-edge technology. Read on to learn more about varicose veins and why they aren’t just an older woman’s problem.
What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are twisted, enlarged veins located under the skin’s surface. These unsightly veins usually look like blue or purple coils. They can sometimes bulge and distend the skin.
Although any superficial vein can become a varicose vein, the most common location for them is in your legs. This is because your veins use one-way valves to prevent backflow when pushing blood to your heart. When these valves don’t work correctly, blood pools in the vein.
These pools make it hard for the muscles that squeeze the veins to successfully push the blood toward your heart. Veins located closer to your skin’s surface have less muscle support. This makes it easier for blood to pool and for the veins to become dark purple or blue and bulging.
The result? Unsightly bulging veins with a rope-like appearance that can be seen through the skin.
Am I at risk of developing varicose veins?
People think of varicose veins as a problem older people face. It is true that age plays a factor. For example, 70% of 70 year olds have varicose or spider veins.
Age isn’t the only factor, however. Anyone can develop varicose veins, but some factors put you at higher risk. Your risk for varicose veins increases if you:
- Are female
- Are or have been pregnant
- Are obese or overweight
- Are sedentary or inactive
- Have a job that requires standing or sitting for extended periods
Another strong indicator that you may develop varicose veins is having a family history of the condition.
What health issues are associated with varicose veins?
Their unsightly appearance isn’t the only problem with varicose veins. They can also affect your health. The most common health issues associated with varicose veins are:
- Mobility problems
- Difficulty sitting
- Problems with your skin
Varicose veins are also associated with far more serious health conditions. Because varicose veins create pools of blood, their presence puts you at a high risk of developing a blood clot, increasing your risk of stroke, varicosity hemorrhage, or pulmonary embolism.
Pooling blood also increases your risk of developing a venous leg ulcer. These leg ulcers can be extremely painful and don’t heal easily due to poor blood flow to the affected area. This puts you at risk of getting a serious and potentially life-threatening infection.
Because varicose veins negatively impact your body’s circulation, your body has a harder time moving fluid in and out. This can lead to edema (swelling) in your legs and feet, increasing your risk of bacterial and fungal infection.
With varicose veins, the wall of the affected vein can become weaker over time. While rare, this can cause the pressure the pooled blood puts on the wall to break it open, resulting in serious bleeding or hemorrhaging.
How can I get treatment for varicose veins?
Varicose veins aren’t just a problem for older women. They can affect anyone and can cause health concerns. Different treatment options exist depending on your condition and health history.
Dr. Sharma and the team at Hamptons Vein & Vascular evaluate your unique situation to determine the best course of treatment for your varicose veins. Some options include sclerotherapy and radiofrequency ablation.
Don’t wait to say goodbye to unsightly varicose veins. Contact Dr. Sharma at Hamptons Vein & Vascular and make an appointment to eradicate your varicose veins!