What Are Varicose Veins?
Treatment of varicose veins in Nigeria cannot be properly discussed without first understanding what varicose veins are and how they come about. Varicose veins are enlarged, swollen and twisted veins. This is a common condition caused by weak or damaged vein walls and valves.
For many people, varicose veins and spider veins (a common and mild variation of varicose veins) are simply a cosmetic concern while for other people, varicose veins can cause lots of discomfort and sometimes lead to more serious problems.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
Veins have one-way valves that open and close to keep blood flowing toward the heart. However, when there are weakened or damaged valves or walls in the veins, blood can flow backwards (reflux) and pool in the veins, causing the veins to enlarge or twist.
Risk Factors Of Varicose Veins
Factors that increase the risk of developing varicose veins include:
- Sex – Women are more likely to develop varicose veins due to hormonal changes. Female hormones tend to relax vein walls. Also, hormonal treatments such as birth control pills may increase the risk in women.
- Age – Aging causes wear and tear on the valves in the veins. Eventually, that wear causes the valves to allow some blood to flow back into veins where it collects instead of flowing to the heart.
- Occupations That Involve Standing or Sitting For Long Periods Of Time – Blood doesn’t flow as well if one is in the same position for long periods. This includes people who have an inactive lifestyle.
- Overweight/Obesity – Being overweight or obese puts added pressure on veins.
- Pregnancy: Hormonal changes during pregnancy and increase in the volume of blood to support the growing fetus can contribute to the development of varicose veins especially in the legs.
- Family History: There’s a great chance of having varicose veins if other family members had varicose veins or a history of deep vein thrombosis.
Signs And Symptoms Of Varicose Veins
- Aching pain
- Bulging or twisted dark purple or bluish veins
- Muscle cramping and swelling in lower legs
- A feeling of heaviness in the legs and feet
- Itching and changes in skin colour around one or more of the veins
- Skin in the affected area could be red, dry and itchy – venous eczema or stasis dermatitis.
- A minor injury to the affected area may result in longer bleeding than normal
Varicose veins typically affect the legs but they can occur anywhere in the body.
Complications Of Varicose Veins
Any condition in which proper blood flow is impaired could cause complications. Varicose veins have no complications in the majority of cases, however, the following could occur:
- Blood clots in the vein (thrombophlebitis)
Treatment Of Varicose Veins In Nigeria – Sclerotherapy And Other Treatment Options
Sclerotherapy is one of the options when it comes to the treatment of varicose veins in Nigeria. It is usually effective in treating varicose veins when done correctly. As one of the best dermatology clinics in Nigeria, we carry out this procedure in Skin101 and have had great results thus far.
What is Sclerotherapy? – Sclerotherapy is a medical procedure whereby a solution is injected into spider veins, reticular veins and small varicose veins to eliminate them. This treatment option has been in use since the 1930s.
How It Works: The solution (either liquid or foam) is injected into the veins, irritating their linings and causing them to collapse and stick together or scar. Blood is then forced to reroute through healthier veins while the scarred veins are reabsorbed into local tissues, eventually fading.
Sclerotherapy can also be used to treat small haemorrhoids after other treatment options have failed or when one wants to avoid surgery.
Other treatment options for varicose veins include; endothermal ablation using either energy from high-frequency radio waves (radiofrequency ablation) or lasers (endovenous laser treatment) to seal the affected veins. When sclerotherapy and endothermal ablation fail or in cases of bigger and more complicated varicose veins, surgery is considered.
This surgical procedure is called ligation and stripping to remove the affected veins. It is usually done under general anaesthesia as a day procedure but an overnight stay in the hospital is sometimes necessary, particularly if the surgery was done on both legs.
Laser treatments are often used to close off smaller veins and spider veins. Strong bursts of light are applied to the vein causing them to gradually fade and disappear.
Compression therapy is also recommended by some doctors. Compression stockings are specially designed to steadily squeeze your legs to improve circulation however, research has not confirmed whether they stop the varicose veins from worsening or prevent them. They may help with discomfort, pain and swelling.
Risks And Side Effects Associated With Treatment Of Varicose Veins
As with any procedure, there are risks and side effects that could occur following treatment of varicose veins. After Sclerotherapy, mild itching may occur, raised red areas and bruising at the injection site could be seen. Development of new, tiny blood vessels — may occur at the site of sclerotherapy treatment also, this is called Neovascularization.
Allergic reactions to the fluid that was injected may occur at the time of the injection and are rarely serious. Most of these side effects disappear within weeks to months of the treatment.
Prevention Of Varicose Veins
To reduce the risk of developing varicose veins, it is important to:
- maintain a healthy diet and weight.
- avoid sitting and standing for too long. If your job entails sitting or standing for long, try to move around at least once every 30 minutes.
- get plenty of exercise even if it is only walking.
- elevate feet while sitting or sleeping with a pillow if at risk of developing varicose veins.
If you have bothersome varicose veins, we would be very glad to help you get rid of them at Skin101, just give us a call on 09086000001!