Free Your Legs from Unsightly Veins
Do you have grey ropes of bulging veins marring your calves? Roadmaps of spidery red and purple lines zigzagging around your upper legs? No need to feel self-conscious or cover up in long pants and maxi dresses. As summer draws to a close in California, don’t let enlarged varicose veins or their smaller cousins, spider veins keep you from enjoying comfortable early fall dresses and skirts.
Varicose Vein and Spider Vein Risk Factors
We mention skirts and dresses because women are more likely to develop both varicose veins and spider veins. Hormonal fluctuations triggered by pregnancy, menopause and/or birth control pills can contribute to damaged veins that are visible through the skin. But, for all segments of the population of any gender, several key factors increase your risk:
Aging: Simply being upright on the planet for many years places stress on your leg veins.
Overweight: Excess weight strains your entire system and can cause varicose veins and spider veins.
Standing/Sitting: Both standing and sitting for many hours takes some of the blame.
Heredity: Varicose veins and spider veins tend to run in the family.
How Varicose Veins and Spider Veins Happen
Your veins work hard every second pumping blood up against gravity to your heart. Over time, or with too much weight pushing against them, vein walls can get “tired” and stretched out, making them wider and longer in appearance. Blood may flow backwards through weakened valves further enlarging the veins. This is technically called venous reflux or venous insufficiency. Exposure to sun and/or heat can also be a contributing factor.
Are Varicose Veins and Spider Veins Hazardous to Your Health?
While varicose veins and spider veins may be unsightly, most of the time, they pose no immediate danger. However, some varicose veins can increase your risk for developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT). This happens when a blood clot forms. This clot can potentially get carried by the bloodstream into the lung area, resulting in a life-threatening pulmonary embolism. Long periods of time sitting still — like during a long plane ride — can cause this to occur.
Signs to watch for are pain and swelling of varicose veins. Best bets for prevention include having your varicose veins removed, a healthy safety measure often covered by insurance, and taking steps to prevent their recurrence. Removing varicose veins and spider veins does not diminish blood flow and will likely even improve blood circulation.
5 Do’s and Don’ts to Prevent Varicose Veins and Spider Veins
An important step for removing varicose veins and spider veins is to have a California Skin Institute board-certified dermatologist evaluate your veins to determine if input from a vascular surgeon would be helpful. We would then discuss options for removing them with procedures customized for your skin. After your legs are clear of unsightly and possibly dangerous damaged veins, there are simple things you can do to prevent a recurrence. Here are some guidelines recommended from the U.S. National Heart Blood and Lung Institute. Your dermatologist will help you develop a personal strategic maintenance plan.
- Do some physical activity every day. Going for a walk or taking the stairs, for example, helps build your leg muscles and get your blood moving.
- Do try to lose weight if you’re overweight. Shedding a few pounds will alleviate stress on your veins and improve blood flow.
- Do wear compression socks if your dermatologist suggests them. They can give your veins an assist against gravity by helping to push blood upward instead of sluggishly pooling in your calves.
- Don’t wear high heels all the time. Lower heeled shoes are better for your calf muscles — the muscles you rely on to help push blood through the veins.
- Don’t stand or sit for long periods without taking breaks. Get up and move around. When you can, raise your legs above the level of your heart by resting them against the wall or on the edge of a chair seat.
The Best Vein Treatment Options
California Skin Institute offers the most sophisticated minimally invasive treatments for eliminating varicose veins. Your board-certified dermatologist will recommend the best treatment option for you after an initial examination that will include taking your personal and family medical history and mapping your varicose veins using ultra-sound technology.
Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT): EVLT is now the gold standard to eliminate enlarged varicose veins with a minimally invasive procedure that’s covered by most insurance companies. You can resume your normal activities the same day post-treatment. EVLT is offered at our Salinas, Santa Cruz and Saratoga offices.
excel® V Laser: This new laser is extremely gentle and adept at breaking down spider veins and returning the skin to its natural color and tone. It can be adjusted to suit each person’s skin and includes a continuous cooling system to minimize discomfort. excel® V is offered at our Kentfield, Monterey, Mountain View, San Francisco, San Jose – Los Gatos, San Mateo and Vista offices.
Sclerotherapy: This saline-based treatment avoids lasers and works via tiny injections directly into the problem veins to shrink them. It is ideal for spider veins and smaller varicose veins. Sclerotherapy is offered at most of our offices.
Contact California Skin Institute today to find the right treatment at an office near you.