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Varicose veins: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About varicose veins

Varicose veins are defined as tortuous dilated veins usually involving a superficial vein in the leg, often associated with incompetency of the valves in the vein.

Varicose veins: Incidence, age and sex

They affect 5% or more of the adult population of western countries. The gender prevalence was found to be nearly equal and there is usually a family history.

Signs & symptoms of varicose veins: Diagnosis

Varicose veins rarely cause severe symptoms. Tortuous dilated veins are seen in the subcutaneous tissue of the legs. Aching in the veins at the end of the day, after prolonged standing, ankle swelling, itching, bleeding, superficial thrombophlebitis, eczema and ulceration are rare.

Many patients without symptoms or signs of complications or ulceration simply require reassurance. Clear indications for intervention include recurrent episodes of hemorrhage and the development of skin changes (lipodermatosclerosis or ulceration) associated with an ankle flare indicative of venous hypertension. In such patients a duplex scan and /or venography is essential.

Causes and prevention of varicose veins

Factors that may predispose to the development of varicose veins are age, sex, race, weight, height occupation, heredity, clothes, erect stance and Klippel-Trenaunay syndrome. Pregnancy and pelvic tumour are also risk factors.

Varicose veins: Complications

Some patients with primary varicose veins develop the important complications of eczema, lipodermatosclerosis and ulceration.

Varicose veins: Treatment

Patients should be treated with elastic compression stockings with an ankle pressure of around 30mm Hg decreasing to 10-15 mm Hg at knee level.

Injection sclerotherapy-A detergent is injected directly into the superficial veins leading to fibrosis and obliteration.

Surgical treatment of varicose veins-is to ligate the point of communication and to remove the major part of the incompetent trunk.