Varicose veins are unusually enlarged blood vessels near the surface of the skin, most commonly found in the legs, behind your knees and linking all the way to your ankles. Although varicoses may seem like an aesthetic concern, they can be painful and uncomfortable for some people.
Moreover, this condition may be a symptom of more serious venous diseases such as chronic venous insufficiency. With the advancement in medicine, there are many types of minimally invasive varicose treatments such as ClariVein and EVLT which has shown good results.
Varicose veins are a result of the failure of the valves in the veins in the legs. In healthy veins, valves in the vein work against gravity to enable blood to flow to the heart for purification. With increased pressure from standing too long, sometimes the valves do not work properly, resulting in the blood flowing backwards and collect in the vein. Blood that pools causes the vein to enlarge and become twisted, leading to varicose veins.
Medical findings show that varicoses occur in 35% of women and 20% of men over the age of 20. Women are more likely to suffer from the condition as a result of hormonal changes weakening the veins during pregnancy or menopause. Varicose veins often run in families with genetic predisposition where some patients are born with faulty valves from childbirth. Ageing and being overweight also increases the risk of acquiring the condition.
Some people do not experience any pain or discomfort. Mild symptoms of varicose veins may include:
More serious and painful symptoms may include:
During the diagnosis of varicose veins, our vascular specialist will do a physical exam to check for swelling, sores, skin colour changes or tender areas in your legs while you are standing or sitting with your legs dangling. Our doctor may also ask you to describe any cases of pain and discomfort in your legs over the years.
If you have signs of deep vein thrombosis or abnormal blood flows, our doctor may do a Sonography (vascular ultrasound test) to examine if your blood is flowing normally or if there is any evidence of a blood clot within the varicose veins. Our doctor is among the few vascular surgeons in Singapore trained to do this non-invasive test. With his ability to do an ultrasound and understand the information in the same consultation, our doctor can quickly diagnose and recommend customised procedures to prevent the worsening of the diseases.
This condition is not just a cosmetic issue, without treatment, it can lead to other medical complications. There are several reasons why you should make an appointment and seek treatment for your varicoses from medical centres.
Discomfort and Aches: There may be no symptoms associated with this condition in the initial stages. As varicose veins become more severe, you will start to experience major discomforts such as aches, cramps and swelling and affect your quality of life.
Progressive Disease: Varicose veins will NOT recede with self-care remedies. While compression stockings, medication, cream and leg elevation will alleviate the symptoms and prevent the condition from getting worse, these treatments will not cure the disease or remove the unsightly veins.
Leg Ulceration: If you see any skin colour changes around the ankle, it can be a sign that your varicoses are rather serious and there is a substantial risk that it may become leg ulceration. When this happens, if patients get cuts and/or wounds, these wounds do not heal up, progressing to become leg ulcers or gangrene and may end up getting infected resulting in surgical amputations.
The latest Treatment, Clarivein, is minimally invasive: In the past, the treatment of varicoses is going through major invasive surgery to strip your affected veins that take weeks to recover. Technology has advanced to effective treatments where you could come into the vein clinic, have the procedure performed under local anaesthesia and leave 1 hour later to go about your normal activities. The advantages of this treatment are no bruises, no scars, no general anaesthesia and no hospitalization needed.
Covered by medical insurance: If you have medical insurance, varicose veins should be a medical condition covered by your insurance.
Varicose veins can be caused by occupational and lifestyle factors including prolonged standing.
Varicose veins can be treated through several treatment options such as sclerotherapy, radiofrequency and tissue glue. Fortunately, these are minimally invasive.
It is highly recommended to visit a vein clinic when you experience severe and continuous pain, swelling in the legs, bleeding, ulcer infection and skin infection. Ideally, you should treat your varicose veins before these symptoms start to appear.
No. Varicose veins do not go away unless proper treatment is provided.
While no particular food negatively impacts varicose veins, they cannot be treated by dietary changes either. Therefore, it is still highly recommended to visit a vein clinic for treatment.
Varicose veins are not a sign of poor health. However, if left untreated they can bleed and clot up, causing ulcers and permanent skin damage.