Summertime makes us think of shorts, bathing suits and mini dresses, but unfortuntately many of us suffer from spider or varicose veins - which is definitely the last accessory we want to be wearing! Lucky for us Specialist Vascular Surgeon at Burjeel Hospital for Advanced Surgery Dubai, Dr. Ashkan Haghshenas, spilled all his secrets on how to treat, prevent and remove varicose and spider veins.
What are varicose veins and are they different to spider veins?
Varicose veins are swollen and enlarged veins that usually occur on the legs and feet. They may be blue or dark purple, and are often lumpy, bulging or twisted in appearance. They happen when faulty valves in the veins allow blood to flow in the wrong direction or to pool.
Spider veins are clusters of tiny blood vessels that develop close to the surface of the skin. They are often red, blue, or purple; and they have the appearance of a spiderweb. They are commonly found on the face and legs.
What are the main causes of varicose veins?
Heavy and uncomfortable legs after standing for a long time, swollen feet and ankles, burning or throbbing in your legs or feet, muscle cramps in your legs (particularly at night) and dry itchy and thin skin over the affected legs. Interestingly, symptoms are usually worse during warm weather and, contrary to popular belief, the problem is not limited to women.
Thus the main cause of disease is genetic but factors such as pregnancy, hormone replacement therapy, contraceptives, and obesity can also contribute. In hot countries such as the UAE, the veins swell and open up in order to help cool the body and prevent overheating. This swelling makes veins larger and allows more blood to pool in one place.
Are they dangerous?
Though spider veins and varicose veins rarely cause serious complications, some individuals may develop skin ulcers. These open wounds usually appear on the lower leg, and they may sometimes lead to soft tissue infections. Some individuals with varicose veins can also develop blood clots within the veins. Localized bleeding from varicose veins also can occur.
When should they be treated and how can they be treated?
Tired legs, bulging veins, ulcers, dry, itchy and thin skin over the affected vein and a burning sensation are symptoms associated with varicose veins and that’s when they should be treated.
Some of the treatments available include wearing compression stockings, taking medication or having the vein closed (ablation). There are various ablation procedures to choose from including liquid injection sclerotherapy, foam injection sclerotherapy, skin-type (topical) laser treatment and endo-venous laser treatment (EVLT), minphlebectomy may be proposed, which involves the removal of faulty veins through minute incisions.
How long is treatment and what is the cost?
There is no one treatment for varicose veins, each person will require a tailored approach for her/him. The price is dependent on the method. But what is assuring is that all treatments are easy, most can be done in the clinic or requires few hours in the hospital. Even patients that require interventions they can walk in and run out of the hospital same day.
How can they be prevented?
Self-care — such as exercise, a healthy diet, elevating your legs or wearing compression stockings — can help you ease the pain of varicose veins and may prevent them from getting worse.