Varicose veins are one of the common diseases seen in everyday life and present as large dilated blood vessels in the legs. In a few people, the varicose veins are simply a cosmetic concern. But in others, they can present with pain, discomfort, bleeding, or an ulcer. Thanks to recent advances in interventional radiology, this disease can be easily treated using pinhole procedures.
The Vein clinic at KMCH is a division of interventional radiology, specializing solely in diagnosing and treating varicose veins. It is headed by Dr. Venkatesh Kasi, who has around 15 years of experience in this field. The center has state-of-the-art doppler, digital imaging and the latest ablation systems, which are required for results that match the best centers in the world.
What Are Varicose Veins?
The veins are the blood vessels that bring blood back from the body to the heart. In the lower limbs, there are two sets of veins, the superficial and the deep. The superficial group lies below the skin. Varicose veins are enlarged tortuous ugly-looking blood vessels beneath the skin. These usually protrude from the skin’s surface and have a “rope /worm” like appearance.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
All veins have valves that allow the flow of blood to the heart and prevent backflow. When these valves do not function properly, the blood flows backward and causes enlargement of blood vessels.
Who Suffers From Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are quite common and affect up to 15-20% of the Indian population. Women are more likely to be affected by varicose veins than men because female hormones tend to relax the walls and valves of the veins. Patients that are obese and have spent long hours standing have a higher incidence of varicose veins. There is a vital genetic component as well.
What Are The Symptoms Of Varicose Veins?
Pain and heaviness in legs.
Can bleed or cause ulceration which can be pretty challenging to heal.
Can One Prevent The Varicose Veins?
If one starts early in life, varicose veins can be prevented. The primary preventive measure is to exercise and wear compression stockings.
Elevation of the legs
During pregnancy, one should always lie on the left side with the legs elevated on a pillow. This prevents the fetus from pressing on the blood vessels and decreases the chance of developing varicosities.
Avoid standing for prolonged periods.
Wear elastic support stockings.
What Problems Can Occur If Left Untreated?
The varicose vein’s size is not related to complications, but the duration of the varicose vein is. The complications include:
1. Superficial thrombophlebitis – in this condition, the varicose vein is inflamed and tender. A clot is usually present in the vein.
2. Bleeding – even with minor trauma, the varicose vein may be associated with bleeding. Because the vein is under high pressure, the bleeding can be quite profuse.
3. Eczema – the skin around the vein may become dry and very itchy.
4. Skin pigmentation – this is brown staining of the skin around the ankle. It is due to the leakage of a small amount of blood from the veins into the skin.
5. Leg ulcers
How Can Varicose Veins Be Diagnosed?
Varicose veins can usually be diagnosed by a simple physical examination. However, the cause of the varicose vein requires the use of Doppler ultrasound. This painless test assesses the blood vessels traveling close to the skin as well as to the bone.
What Is The Treatment For Varicose Veins?
The symptoms are initially treated with simple compression stockings. When symptoms from varicose veins do not improve with compression stockings or when patients develop complications, as mentioned earlier, they need further treatment. The conventional method of treatment is surgery (Stripping of veins), which is rarely done today. The latest technology of varicose vein removal in Interventional radiology departments are ablation and adhesive embolization (Pinhole techniques).