Friday, September 25, 2009


By Shawn Vuong

Failing leg veins are also known as varicose veins.  In this post, Dr. Holm describes how people develop varicose veins, why they are a health risk, and how best to treat them.  

Some times conservative treatment can fail, but one should not worry.  Many other treatment options exists for varicose veins, although they are usually more invasive and expensive.  Some of these options include sclerotherapy, laser surgery, vein stripping, ambulatory phlebectomy, and endoscope vein surgery.  If you are having problems with varicose veins, it is best to see your physician to discuss the best treatment option for you.


By Richard P. Holm MD

I’ve heard failing leg veins called everything from “spider veins”, or “a bag of worms,” to “very-close-veins.”  Affecting more than fifty percent of people over fifty, these gnarled, distended, varicose veins represent a problem that, generally, only gets worse.

Arteries take blood out away from the heart, like a steel pipeline from a powerful pump station.  On the other hand, veins bring blood back like a lazy river that works because of locks or valves located to prevent back flow.  But there is nothing lazy about the job of returning all that blood up hill, against gravity, all the way back to the heart.

The trouble with leg veins usually starts during pregnancy, or with a job which requires lots of standing in one spot without walking, or with the increased venous pressure associated with obesity.  Of course, some people inherit better veins than others.

When a few valves begin to fail, then veins gradually become distended and dilated, which makes more valves fail, and the problem swells.  Common signs of failing veins include edema, redness, rash, fever, pain, and even hard to heal sores.  What’s worse, when blood movement slows down, clotting can happen, and when clots spread the result can be life-threatening clots to the lung.

What can we do to prevent varicose veins?  Muscles surround most veins within the leg, so when we walk or use our legs, the muscles contract and squeeze, acting like pumps.  If the one-way valves are still working, walking and leg movement makes blood flow upward and in this way regular walking or rocking back and forth while we stand helps prevent varicose veins.  And don’t forget to put the feet up whenever possible.

The next best solution is to wear compression stockings.  Although they can be hard to put on and many people are hesitant to use them, the lower, knee-high stockings are easier to use, do the lion’s share of the job, are relatively cheap, and the results are well worth the effort.  Some people absolutely swear by them since they prevent so many problems and feel so good.

There is a lot you can do if you stand to inherit those very-close-veins.  Left alone, they only get worse.

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