Statistics indicate that about 30% to 40% of the world’s adult population suffers from varicose veins, and the number is only increasing each year. Apart from hormonal imbalance, pregnancy, family history, and obesity, an increasingly sedentary form of life, work pressure and lack of physical activity can add to the problem. The need of the hour is to raise awareness on the fact that although varicose veins may appear like a cosmetic problem, ignoring the condition can lead to severe complications.
What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are swollen, twisted veins that commonly appear under the skin. Varicose veins are often seen in the legs as they are under constant pressure from body weight. Excessive standing or sitting may put more stress on these veins leading to long-term damage. It is a disease that mainly affects the lower limbs. The blood circulation is adversely affected as the pressure on the veins causes them to become dilated beyond capacity.
Dr Rajendra Bansal, Interventional Radiologist, Narayana Multispeciality Hospital, Jaipur, said, “Most patients with varicose veins suffer extreme pain because they ignore the problem in the early stages. Although it is not life-threatening, if left untreated, chronic varicose veins can lead to many serious complications. Accumulation of deoxygenated blood increases pressure on the veins, further causing blood to leak into surrounding areas causing oedema. Swelling in veins and tissues limits not only blood circulation but also the supply of oxygen and important nutrients that the blood carries. This interferes with the skin’s normal healing mechanism causing delayed healing of even small cuts and wounds.”
Awareness is required
Adding further, Dr Rajendra Bansal, said, “There is a need to raise awareness about the seriousness of the disease and the available treatment options. Lack of complete knowledge about this ailment exacerbates the problem, and many continue to suffer silently without knowing that they may be suffering from varicose veins. People also often fear that surgery is the only treatment option available. However, innovative developments in recent years have helped in the treatment of this condition through non-surgical methods.”
One of the minimally invasive methods for treating varicose veins is radiofrequency ablation (RFA) therapy. Ablation means the use of heat to damage the tissue, which causes scar tissue to form. In the RFA technique, radiofrequency energy is used to heat up and damage the wall inside a vein. This creates a varicose vein in the leg to shrink and collapse. This outpatient procedure causes minimal pain or bruises and enables quicker recovery, and the patient can be discharged within hours after the procedure. Other options include venous ligation and stripping, phlebectomy, and techniques like endovenous laser therapy.
Treating varicose veins using a medical adhesive is the latest advancement in treating varicose veins. It is a minimally invasive procedure in which a catheter is guided through a small access site in the leg and into the diseased area of the vein. Once this is done, the medical adhesive is administered at various points in a segmental fashion, and the vein is closed with manual compression. The process requires less time and helps in faster recovery.
Some tips for managing varicose veins
- Take regular walks for proper blood circulation in your body and legs specifically.
- If you are obese, it is a must for you to lose weight to reduce the strain on your legs. A low-salt diet is best to prevent swelling and water retention in the body.
- Ensure that you wear comfortable low-heel footwear.
- Do not wear tight clothes around the groin, legs or veins to add to the woes
- Elevate your legs in regular intervals for blood circulation.
- Do not stand or sit for longer durations in one go. Keep changing your position.
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