Varicose veins are those ropy veins that tend to pop up on your legs and arms for no apparent reason. They are different from spider veins in that they are raised and no cover up will camouflage them.
While it’s true that lumpy varicose veins aren’t that appealing, there are also some significant health connotations so if you discover what might be one then head to your nearest vein center ASAP and check those bad boys out!
What Are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are gnarled up enlarged veins that can be red, blue or flesh colored, and indicate an impedance in your bodies’ blood flow.
Blood has to circulate through your body in order to make it back to your heart, and when it doesn’t do that properly it can accumulate, causing varicose veins. Like this:
Varicose veins have non-functioning valves, so instead of the blood moving up towards your heart and lungs, it moves in the opposite direction accumulating in areas where the valves are still functioning.properly.
If not treated, they get worse with time.
Unlike spider veins, which are largely aesthetic, varicose veins can be an indication of serious medical conditions such as deep vein thrombosis (blood clots), and heart valve issues. They can also be super painful, burn and itch.
They can also lead to ulcers in your skin too so make sure to get it checked out if you suspect you may have one.
HOWEVER, this is a BEAUTY blog so from here on in we only care about how they LOOK and we’ll go from there. 🙂
Who Gets Varicose Veins?
There’s a fair chance that a varicose vein can be in your future. I mean, twenty-five percent of all Americans get varicose veins, so…
There are three factors that put you at a higher risk for varicose veins:
As you age your veins lose elasticity, causing them to stretch, increasing their circumference, making it easier for blood to collect there if there isn’t sufficient circulation to make up for it.
Also, the skin holding the veins lose elasticity making a varicose vein hard to go unnoticed.
A lot of women get varicose veins due to pregnancy (another reason not to do it 🙂 ).
Pregnancy increases the amount of blood that needs to circulate through the lower half of your body. It’s all good and well for the babe, but your leg veins, not so much.
A way to help with this is to wear compression socks. I’m not sure which is worse.
Menopause. I hate that word so whenever I talk about it I take a small break for a small jam.
Hormone changes can play a role in varicose veins due to the changes in our level of estrogen as we age.
5 Treatments for Varicose Veins
There are 5 non-surgical treatments to get rid of a pesky varicose veins: Venaseal, sclerotherapy, ultrasound assisted sclerotherapy, endoveous laser, and RF laser ablation.
VenaSeal Closure System
Ideal for: Superficial, symptomatic varicose veins
The procedure involves using a catheter to inject medical glue into your varicose veins. Results are immediate and permanent.
Here’s how it goes down:
There aren’t a lot of doctors in the U.S. doing this procedure but we’ll catch up soon, you’ll see!
Ideal for: Small, superficial varicose veins
Price: $150 to $350 per leg per treatment
Standard Sclerotherapy is the injection of sodium chloride and lidocaine into your vein with a syringe, in order to collapse the vein. It may take several weeks to see the results and may take a few treatments.
I discuss this procedure in more detail in my article Mama Too Vein for Spider Veins? Top 3 Ways to Get Rid of Spider Veins.
Ultrasound Guided Foam Sclerotherapy
Ideal for: People with large areas of bulbous, squiggly varicose veins
Cost: From $300 to $1000 depending on the size
Ultrasound guided foam sclerotherapy (or just ‘foam sclerotherapy’), is a bit more involved than standard sclerotherapy in that it uses an ultrasound probe to inject foam into specific areas of the vein.
This allows the physician to have a better handle on the application and is great for treating large patches of varicose veins.
It may take several weeks to enjoy the results, but it usually only takes one or max, two treatments. For larger veins, you may have to wear a compression stockings for about a week after.
Endovenous Laser Therapy
Ideal for: Long, staight, bulbous varicose veins
Cost: $600 to $3,000 depending on the severity of the veins
In endovenous laser therapy, also referred to as endovenous thermal ablation, uses a fiber tip to introduce a laser (most commonly a diode laser) directly into the vein, immediately shrinking and cauterizing it.
This usually only takes one treatment. You will experience some bruising and may have to wear a compression stocking until your follow up visit when your physician will use an ultrasound to be sure that the vein is completely collapsed.
Ideal for : People with Bulbous, somewhat straight varicose veins
Cost: From $2,100 to $2,500
Radiofrequency ablation is similar to endovenous laser therapy with the difference being that radio frequency energy is introduced inside the vein as opposed to laser light energy.
The results are immediate and you may have to wear a compression stocking for about a week.One treatment should do the trick.
Will Your Insurance Pay?
If after an ultrasound exam it is found that you have varicose veins thata interfere with your daily activities such as work or child care OR if you have complications such as ulcers, phlebitis or skin changes, then some insurances will cover this procedure.
(Your varicose veins hurt right? Ow!)
All of these treatments should take care of your varicose veins unless you have a super severe case that requires a surgical procedure such as stripping or ligation. I will be writing about those in coming articles.
If my own unidentified lumps turns out to be a varicose veins then, given my innate compulsion for immediate gratification, and my disdain for doing treatments more than once, I would choose the VenaSeal option. I’d crowd fund that shit if I had to but that would be my choice.
Which would be yours?