Questions & Answers
How Do Varicose Veins Form?
Veins return blood from the rest of your body to your heart, so the blood can be recirculated. To return blood to your heart, the veins in your legs must work against gravity.
Muscle contractions in your lower legs act as pumps, while toned, elastic vein walls help blood return to your heart. Tiny one-way valves in your veins open as blood flows toward your heart then close to stop blood from flowing backward.
If blood pools in leg veins it causes those veins to enlarge and become varicose. Varicose veins usually appear on the back of calves or the inside of the leg and can appear anywhere on legs from groin to ankle. The veins appear blue because they contain deoxygenated blood, which is in the process of being recirculated. Swelling, burning, muscle cramping and a heavy feeling in the lower legs are sometimes accompanied by itching around one or more of the swollen veins.
Standing and walking upright increases the pressure in the veins in your lower body. That is the reason veins most commonly affected are those in your lower legs and feet.
What are the Most Important Causes?
- Aging Because of the frequent hormonal changes in the body due to pregnancy and menopause, many women lose elasticity and tone in leg veins. Veins begin to stretch and weaken and the valve in the main draining vein of the leg begins to malfunction allowing blood that should be moving toward the heart to flow backwards, causing pooling in the lower legs and ankles.
- Pregnancy In order to support the growing fetus during pregnancy, the blood is increased in your body, however the flow is decreased from your legs to your pelvis, causing pressure on leg veins and an unfortunate side effect enlarged veins in your legs.
- Weight gain or loss Men and women who are relatively tall and women who are obese are also more likely to show signs of varicose veins than others.
- Sitting or standing for long periods of time increases the pressure in the veins in your lower body. That is the reason veins most commonly affected are those in your lower legs and feet.
- Simple genetics People whose mother, father, brother or sister has varicose veins are more likely than those with no family history to develop the condition.
How can find out what is causing my varicose veins?
If you want to know what is causing your varicose veins, a simple ultrasound can tell you. In many cases however, varicose and spider veins a common, mild and medically insignificant variation of varicose veins are simply a cosmetic concern and can be reduced and flattened so that they are not noticeable.
Proper care and maintenance of the legs and veins keeps them healthy, improves circulation and prevents them from causing aching pain and discomfort.
How Can I Prevent Varicose Veins?
- Exercise Walking, running and cycling is an enjoyable way to get relief and prevent varicose veins. These activities strengthen your calf muscles which act as pumps to move the blood from the bottom of your legs back up to the heart. Dont wear support hose while exercising.
- Raise your legs Lying on the floor on your back, with your legs and feet raised up against a wall for about five minutes helps to push the blood back to the heart. Putting a pillow under your hips makes this pose very comfortable. Do this once or twice a day being careful if you have back trouble.
- Lose excess weight Reduce weight bearing by losing excess weight, handling less heavy articles and reduce activities that put excessive strain on the legs.
- Dont cross your legs when sitting.
- Try to avoid standing or sitting for long periods of time.
- Wear unrestrictive clothing that is not tight, especially around the waist.
What are my options if I want to avoid surgery?
Alternative therapies continue to be the primary choice for many varicose vein sufferers, as surgical procedures for treatment are quite invasive and involve the closing or complete removal of the affected vein.
Creams and Lotions containing specific herbs and essential oils
Creams made with safe but powerful herbs and essential oils can reduce the inflammation associated with varicose veins and regenerate weak, damaged, varicose and spider veins. Other herbs and essential oils stimulate sluggish circulation in the legs and helps pump blood back up to the heart, increasing leg energy and comfort.
Look for creams and lotions containing the following herbs: Calendula, Horse Chestnut, Comfrey, Prickly Ash and Gingko Biloba. Therapeutic essential oils that help heal and flatten varicose veins include: Cypress, Lemon, Geranium, Yarrow and Myrrh.
Compression Stocking Therapy
Compression Stockings are an alternative therapy for patients with edema resulting from varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency. They will make your legs look smoother and feel better as long as the stockings are properly fitted, otherwise they may cut off circulation.
Elastic compression support hose help prevent legs from aching and swelling and keep blood from collecting in distended areas of the varicose veins. Circulation is increased and they will keep you more comfortable. But be aware that as soon as the stockings come off, the veins will come back. Because they do not cure varicose veins the symptoms may progressively worsen.
When exercising it is not necessary to wear support hose. Wear them only when standing for long periods. Exercising does an excellent job of contracting leg muscles to prevent blood pooling.
Can taking Horse Chestnut as a supplement internally help?
Be extra careful when taking supplements if they contain horse chestnut! Side effects include nausea, upset stomach, itching and other allergic reactions. The recommended dosage is about 250 ot 325 mg twice a day which can be reduced once improvement in symptoms is achieved.
If you are considering taking horse chestnut internally, you should follow these precautions:
- You should be supervised by a healthcare provider.
- Uou should never discontinue other therapies without medical advice.
- If you are taking prescription anti-coagulants or aspirin therapy to reduce risk of blood clots you should not use horse chestnut extract.
Will taking Vitamin K help remove Spider Veins?
It is a common myth that vitamin K pills, creams and lotions diminish spider veins. The rumor stems from the fact that vitamin K has long been associated with blood clotting.
Taken orally, vitamin K can cause blood clots, stopping the flow of blood through a vein or capillary and thereby making it disappear. This works with healthy veins as well, posing definite health risks.
Although reviews are mixed on the effectiveness of vitamin K, most experts agree that applying vitamin K to the skin, will do very little to clot blood and minimize spider veins.
Dangers of Vitamin K
Reprinted from: FREE DAILY DIET TIP Saturday, November 19, 2005
(originally posted at www.lifescript.com)
While vitamin K is an essential nutrient in your daily diet, it can interfere with medications that thin the blood. Anti-coagulants like coumadin or warfarin reduce the formation of blood clots in adults who are at risk for heart attacks, stroke or arterial blockage.
Since vitamin K can increase the activity of blood clotting, it is important that adults taking such prescriptions pay special attention to their vitamin K intake. Check your multivitamin for vitamin K as well as the foods you regularly eat. Vitamin K is found in all cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower. It is OK to eat vitamin K - containing food, just don't overdo it.
The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for Vitamin K is 80 micrograms (mcg) per day from all sources.
What Foods and Supplements Do You Recommend?
To reduce the risk for varicose veins, increase dietary intake of flavonoid -rich foods such as yams, onions, grapes and berries.
To take some of the pressure off varicose veins, include whole grains, like oats, barley, beans, peas, lentils, baked potato with the skin, brown rice and whole wheat, and plenty of vegetables and fruits in your daily diet.
High Fibre foods prevent constipation. Constipation gives you a tendency to push and put more pressure on the valves of your legs, weakening them.
Taking 1,000 to 2,000 milligrams of vitamin C every day strengthens blood vessel walls, maintains leg vein health and prevents the tendency for legs to swell due to poor circulation, pressure or exertion.
If you get diarrhea, you can cut back to between 500 to 1,000 milligrams per day.
What Surgical Procedures are Available?
This procedure involves a substantial incision at the groin and additional incisions at the knee or below the knee. It involves removing a long vein from the groin to the knee, cutting it through small incisions, tying it off and removing it.
Removing the vein won't affect circulation in your leg because veins deeper in the leg take care of the larger volumes of blood.
Stripping of the vein requires additional incisions at the knee or below the knee and is associated with a high incidence of sugical complications. Vein stripping (avulsion phlebectomy) requires multiple 2-3-mm incisions along the course of the vein and can cause damage to adjacent nerves and lymphatic vessels.
Recurrences of varicose veins are the rule rather than the exception with this operation. It is performed with general anaesthetic and is covered by most health plans. Two week recovery time.
Endovenous Laser Therapy
This is a new procedure that is less invasive than surgery and has a lower complication rate. The doctor inserts a small hollow tube into the abnormal main draining vein of the leg and uses lasers to seal off the vein. With the vein sealed off, blood is forced to flow through a secondary venous system. This allows bloated, abnormal varicose veins to shrink back to normal. This is an outpatient procedure for most people.
Recovery time is two weeks. It is becoming the most effective means for treatment of varicose veins, however it is too early to evaluate this procedure's success rate. Excellent clinical results are observed at 2-4 years, but the long-term effectiveness of EVLT is not yet known.
The varicose recurrence rate is less than 7% after 2 years, a rate comparable or superior to that for surgery, US-guided sclerotherapy and radiofrequency ablation.
(information originally sourced from www.emedicine.com)
Average cost is around $2500 for one leg and $5000 for both, which keeps it from being a widely used surgery.
Sclerotherapy for varicose and spider veins
In this procedure, your doctor injects small- and medium-sized varicose veins with a hardening solution that scars and closes those veins forming a clot that diverts blood to other veins. This treatment usually requires repeated visits to your doctor's office with anywhere from 5 to 40 injections each visit. A cotton ball and coompression tape is applied to each area of the leg as it is finished. In addition to the compression tape applied during the procedure, tight-fitting support hose may be prescribed to guard against blood clots and to promote healing. The tape and cotton balls can be removed after 48 hours. However, you may be instructed to wear the support hose for 72 hours or more.
Although the same vein may need to be injected more than once, sclerotherapy is effective if done correctly however it is not permanent. About 70% of veins may re-appear with 3-4 years.
This procedure should only be tried if you do not have a problem with the valve in the main draining vein of the leg, or if you have had the main draining vein ligated or ablated: otherwise the varicose vein will reappear.
Be a cautious health consumer. Advertisements claiming "unique," "permanent" or "painless" methods to remove varicose veins may be appealing, but they may not actually measure up to those claims. The procedure is especially painful if the doctor uses a salt solution instead of a hardening (sclerosing agent) solution.
If the doctor uses too much hardening solution side effects such as headaches and an ulcer at the injection site can occur. In many cases, skin discolorations (brownish pigmentation) will remain at the site of the injections for up to a year.
Before undergoing any procedure, ask your doctor about any health risks and possible side effects.
What Causes Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are very common, especially during pregnancy and after childbirth. They are caused by increased pressure in the veins of the anus. The most common cause is straining during bowel movements.
Constipation, prolonged sitting during bowel movements, and anal infection may also contribute to the development of hemorrhoids.
Invisi-Vein has the superior healing power to strengthen weak, bleeding hemorrhoids. It reduces the inflammation and pain and heals broken veins that often accompany hemorrhoids.
It is important to increase intake of fibers, such as fruit, vegetables, cereals, whole meal bread, etc. useful for softening stools, relieving constipation and thus reducing straining.
Taking extra vitamins C and E and bioflavonoids (check to see if its included in the vitamin C you take) have a profound effect on the prevention or development of hemorrhoids.
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