What are Varicose Veins?
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 varicose veins may seem like an aesthetic concern, varicose veins can be painful and uncomfortable for some people.
Varicose veins may be a symptom for more serious venous diseases such as chronic venous insufficiency. With the advancement in medicine, there are many types of minimally invasive varicose veins treatments such as ClariVein and EVLT which has shown good results.
What causes Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are a result of the failure of the valves in the veins in the legs. In healthy veins, valves in the vein works 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 to flow 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 varicose veins occurs in 35% of women and 20% of men over the age of 20. Women are more likely to suffer from varicose veins 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. Aging and being overweight also increases the risk of varicose veins.
Symptoms of Varicose Veins
Some people do not experience any pain or discomfort. Mild symptoms of varicose veins may include:
More serious and painful symptoms may include:
Diagnosis of Varicose Veins
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 are any evidence of a blood clot. our doctor is among the few vascular surgeons in Singapore trained to do this non-invasive test. With his ability to do an ultrasounds and understand the information in the same consultation, our doctor can quickly diagnose and recommend customised procedures to prevent the worsening of the diseases.
Should I seek treatment for Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are 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 varicose veins from medical centres.
Discomfort and Aches: There may be no symptoms associated with your varicose veins in the initial stages. As it becomes more severe, you will start to experience major discomfort 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 varicose veins 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 that your varicose veins are rather serious and there are substantial risk that it may became 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.
Latest Treatment, Clarivein, is minimally-invasive: In the past, the treatment of varicose veins is going through major invasive surgery to strip your varicose veins that takes 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.