WHAT ARE VARICOSE VEINS?
Varicose veins are generally caused when the pumping valves stop functioning properly. They can appear as raised above the skin (generally classified as large and medium varicose veins) or small, red an unraised which are generally classified as spider veins or the technical term, telangiectasia.
Varicose veins affect over 50% of the population. Due to hormonal factors, it is three times more common among women than men. Varicose veins are mostly caused by heredity, but can also be brought on by pregnancy, aging, obesity and working in a prolonged standing position. They are the first sign of venous malfunction and can lead to multiple symptoms such as aching, pain, heaviness, itching, swelling, cramping and nocturnal restless legs. They can be complicated by clotting (superficial thrombophlebitis) or bleeding.
If left untreated, 20-30% of patients will develop more advanced signs of venous incompetence like hyperpigmentation (irreversible browning of the skin), lipodermatosclerosis (inflammatory thickening of the skin) and ultimately venous ulcers (skin breakdown with chronic wounds).
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