What are Varicose Veins?

What are Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins are a very common medical condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Many people suffering with varicose veins find them unsightly and can impact them in day to day life. These swollen, twisted and sometimes painful veins often raise several questions for those dealing with them, but at UK Vein Clinic, we’re here to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about varicose veins.

Most commonly asked questions about varicose veins

What are varicose veins?

Varicose veins are enlarged, twisted veins that usually appear in the legs but can affect other areas of the body such as the hands, face or pelvis. They are caused by an issue with the valves in the veins not functioning correctly, which ultimately leads to blood pooling in the veins. This pooling of blood causes the veins to become enlarged, twisted, and can cause them to bulge, and usually appear blue or purple. 

Why do varicose veins happen?

Varicose veins develop when the small valves inside the veins stop working properly. In a healthy vein, blood flows smoothly to the heart with the help of small valves that prevent it from flowing backwards. If these valves weaken or are damaged in any way, the blood is then able to flow backwards and collect in the vein, which can eventually cause it to become swollen and enlarged (varicose).

Who is affected by varicose veins?

Varicose veins are a common condition, affecting up to 3 in 10 adults. Women are more likely to develop them than men, but anyone can develop them. They most commonly develop in the legs and feet, particularly in the calves, but any vein in the body could become varicose. 

What can increase your chances of getting varicose veins? 

Certain things can increase your chances of developing varicose veins, risk factors such as genetics, obesity, prolonged sitting or standing, age, gender (more common in women), and pregnancy can increase chances. As well as this, a sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercise or being overweight can increase the likelihood of developing varicose veins.

Why do varicose veins itch?

Itching is a very common symptom of varicose veins and can be caused by several factors, including blood pooling, skin changes and inflammation as well as reduced blood flow. Because varicose veins result from blood pooling in the veins, the area can become inflamed and itchy. Poor blood circulation in the affected veins can also result in insufficient oxygen and delivery of nutrients to the skin which can also cause itchiness and discomfort.

To alleviate itchiness caused by varicose veins, it's essential to manage the underlying condition. For short term relief, elevating the legs, wearing compression stockings, and keeping the skin well-moisturised can help reduce discomfort, but If itching persists or worsens, always consult a healthcare professional for further evaluation and treatment options. 

How to sleep with varicose veins

Sleeping comfortably when you have varicose veins can be a challenge for some, but we have some tips to help you improve your sleep quality:

Elevate your legs - We recommend propping your legs up with pillows before going to bed to reduce blood pooling and swelling in your leg veins. Elevating your legs above heart level helps improve blood circulation and can help to relieve discomfort.

Wear loose clothing - Wearing tight-fitting pyjamas or socks can restrict blood flow, so we recommend wearing loose, breathable clothes to bed to prevent further discomfort.

Wear compression stockings - Compression stockings are known to provide support to your veins and help to reduce pain and swelling. While we recommended wearing them during the day, we also suggest that you put them on before bedtime for added comfort.

Keep hydrated - Dehydration can make varicose vein symptoms worse, so make sure to drink enough water during the day. 

Can you get rid of varicose veins?

In short, yes, you can get rid of varicose veins, however the possibility of completely getting rid of them depends on several factors. While lifestyle changes can alleviate symptoms and improve the appearance of varicose veins, they may not eliminate them entirely which is why UK Vein Clinic offer long-term solutions:

Radiofrequency Ablation - Endovenous radiofrequency ablation (EVRF) is a thermal treatment that uses radio energy to generate and direct a precise source of heat to seal off the varicose vein, preventing blood from flowing through it. The vein eventually shrinks and disappears, reducing the appearance from the surface.

Foam sclerotherapy - Sclerotherapy is an ultrasound-guided procedure that uses a special foam to close damaged veins; it is injected directly into the vein, causing the varicose vein to collapse and close. The procedure is performed under local anaesthesia and is virtually painless. 

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Where to find us

We're pleased to be able to provide our world-class varicose vein treatment in a variety of places throughout the United Kingdom. Learn more about your treatment options, including endovenous radio-frequency ablation (EVRF) and foam sclerotherapy, at the clinic closest to you


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