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Senior Health and Appearance - Varicose Veins

Feb 15, 2018 by Larry Morgan

As you age, you may notice many changes in your skin. This is perfectly normal, although some changes can be cause for concern.

One of these changes may be varicose veins. They’re usually more of an eyesore than a physical issue, but some people experience severe pain with them. Here’s what to know if you encounter varicose veins:

What are they?

Veins can become varicose if they tangle a bit and enlarge, allowing blood to flow back and then forward again. This results in bulgy-looking veins protruding out of the skin, usually on the legs and feet. They most frequently occur in older adults. As many as 35% of Americans have them.

Will they hurt?

For most people, varicose veins are painless, and the only concern is their perhaps unruly appearance. For others, however, they may embed and cause extreme pain and discomfort.

Other possible symptoms include:

  • Muscle cramps, especially at night
  • Discoloration of the skin
  • Swollen feet and/or ankles
  • Burning or throbbing sensations
  • Itchy skin over the veins
  • Feeling fatigue or heaviness in the legs

Interestingly, symptoms can worsen late in the day, during warmer weather, or after the person stands for an extended period of time.

A condition called phlebitis occurs if the varicose veins become inflamed (and worse, form blood clots). Signs of phlebitis include:

  • Discoloration
  • Heat radiating from the veins
  • Extreme pain
  • Hardness

Varicose veins can cause many other issues in the body as well, such as dermatitis or lymphedema.

Can I prevent varicose veins?

There is, unfortunately, little to no evidence on how to prevent varicose veins. However, making lifestyle changes have been shown to help, as well as methods to relieve symptoms, such as:

  • Moving around every half hour
  • Exercising regularly
  • Losing unnecessary weight
  • Avoiding tight-fitting clothes
  • Avoiding wearing high-heels for extended periods of time
  • Raising the affected area(s) to above heart-level when sleeping or sitting

What treatments are available to me?

There are treatments for both the medical aspects as well as cosmetic aspects of the veins.

Compression stockings, for example, may help with both after being worn regularly for 6 months or so. Ablation and sclerotherapy use a laser and a foamy medicine respectively to close off the veins so as to let them reduce in size and appearance and “heal.” Surgery is also an option, albeit the most invasive.

If you are experiencing aching from varicose veins or pain in your legs for an unknown reason, consult your doctor. 

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