Varicose veins aren’t necessarily inevitable as we age. Seek prompt treatment to protect your overall well-being and your venous health.
As we age, our chances of developing varicose veins increases. You may think that varicose veins are just a “natural” part of aging that you will have to live with for years to come.
However, with today’s convenient varicose vein treatments, there’s no reason to accept years of aching, swelling, and itching legs. These gnarled veins are more than just a cosmetic inconvenience — they can directly impact your quality of life. In fact, varicose veins can actually be linked to health conditions, like DVT, that put your overall health at risk.
Varicose Veins and Age
While there are many causes of varicose veins, age is by far the most significant. Veins are an essential part of the circulatory system and are responsible for transporting blood to the heart. Healthy veins have springy, elastic-like walls and tiny, one-way valves to help them accomplish this. But as we age, the elasticity of the vein wall begins to fade and decades spent opening and closing starts to take its toll on the valves.
When this happens, the veins stop functioning correctly and blood flows backwards, flooding the vein branches. This causes them to stretch and become what we call varicose veins, a result of a condition known as venous insufficiency. According to the University of Rochester, 40% of men and 70% of women will face vein conditions of some form or another by age 60.
How Varicose Veins Impact Quality of Life
These bulging, cord-like veins are more than a cosmetic concern — poorly functioning veins can also lead to major circulatory problems that put your health at risk as you age:
- Ulcers: Skin begins to break down when its cells don’t receive enough oxygen and nutrients due to compromised circulation. As a result, ulcers on the leg, ankle, and foot can form. If left untreated, the skin surrounding the ulcer will continue to weaken and lead to infection.
- Blood Clots: Not all blood clots are dangerous, but deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is. DVT refers to a blood clot that forms in a deeply-located vein, often in the leg, and is the result of blood that flows too slowly through the veins and clumps. A clot that dislodges and enters the heart or lungs can be deadly. Individuals with varicose veins are 5.52 times more likely to develop DVT than those without varicose veins.
- Knee Pain: Blood clots as a result of varicose veins can also trigger knee pain. Clots prevent blood from flowing freely through the vein, and blocked blood flow damages tissue. This is a perfect recipe for swelling. Knees, with their limited amount of soft tissue, are a prime target for this swelling.
- Impaired Mobility: Many people with varicose veins experience severe itchiness and achy, throbbing, or numbing sensations in their legs.This directly impacts mobility and turns everyday activities into a challenge.
- Excessive Bleeding: Varicose veins press against the skin’s surface, making them more susceptible to cuts. Because they are swollen and full of blood, it can be hard to stop the bleeding once it starts.
The Ease of Varicose Vein Treatment
Varicose veins don’t have to be a natural part of aging. There are now a plethora of noninvasive varicose vein treatment options available to help you regain your quality of life and protect your health. The best part about these new therapies? They require minimal time to accomplish (no overnight hospital visits) and allow patients to quickly return to their normal, daily routines.
Older patients may be surprised by how easy these treatments are, compared to the more complicated procedures of decades past. Here’s how a few of the most common treatment methods work:
- Microphlebectomy removes abnormal vessels through tiny skin incisions
- ClosureFast™ utilizes radio frequency to administer heat to a vein
- Venaseal™ closes veins with a medical adhesive
- Endovenous laser therapy (EVLT) heals and closes vessels with laser technology
Don’t let varicose veins steal your quality of life. Talk to a varicose vein doctor at the Vein & Vascular Institute today.