Summer Legs

What Are Varicose Veins and Why Do I Have Them?

Do you know what varicose veins are? Often misunderstood as a condition reserved for the elderly and, while age is a factor, varicose and spider veins can occur at any time and may depend more on genetics and lifestyle than age.

They may even be exacerbated by pregnancy. Get the facts on varicose veins, what role they play in your overall health and wellbeing, and what treatment options are available.

Varicose veins are veins, particularly in the lower limbs, that have become enlarged and look almost coiled. They present on legs as dark blue, thick lines that may appear to bulge beneath the skin. They occur because the valves

within the vein that force blood upwards towards the heart lose the battle with gravity, instead allowing the blood to pool which causes the vein to swell and distort into the varicose condition. As we age veins can lose some of their elasticity and the weakened vein walls aren’t able to support the full function of the valves within. For many people varicose veins are merely unsightly, we have a lot of veins pumping blood up to the heart in our legs, but the appearance of varicose veins may also be an indicator of an underlying health concern; it’s always best to talk to your primary medical caregiver about varicose veins.

While many people with varicose veins are most concerned about the appearance of their legs, the condition can cause discomfort including itchiness, swelling, and the feeling of heaviness in the legs themselves. Whether you want to treat the symptoms or are concerned strictly from a cosmetic standpoint, there are several ways to treat varicose veins, most of which you’ll be pleased to know are non- or minimally-invasive.

Varicose vein treatment options include:

Compression stockings are popular and available at both over the counter and prescription strengths. When you wear them, the squeeze of the stockings can help to restore blood flow by supporting weakened vein walls to ease discomfort.

Laser treatments use powerful beams of light to apply heat to the vein causing it to scar and close. Eventually, the vein should disappear from sight. Often more than one treatment is required, and most patients receiving laser therapy report little discomfort.

Surgical procedures to combat varicose veins involve injecting the vein with a solution that, like laser therapy, scars and closes the veins. When all else fails doctors may recommend surgically tying off or removing the veins altogether. Typically these are out-patient procedures.

Spider Veins vs. Varicose Veins: Spider veins are varicose veins that are smaller in size. While varicose veins are commonly only found on the legs, spider veins may appear on both legs and the face.

Wilson Health Services can provide assistance with ordering appropriate compression stockings for your specific needs. Our laser treatments are also available for varicose and spider veins & can also be a great addition to a physiotherapy treatment plan. For more information please call the clinic at 519-624-8000 or visit