Veins in our arms and legs help send blood up to the heart, working against gravity using valves. As we get older, our veins soften and our valves weaken, causing the blood that is supposed to travel upwards to flow down and pool in certain places. This leads to varicose veins. Varicose veins are superficial veins, those that lie closest to the skin, that have become visible, discolored and bulging. For many, these veins are just an aesthetic annoyance, a reason to forgo a swimsuit or opt for pants on a hot summer day, but for others they can cause pain, eczema and ulcers if left untreated.
More than 20 million Americans have varicose veins, and by the age of 50, 40 percent of women and 20 percent of men will have the twisting, knotty veins. When vein valves stop functioning properly, blood can no longer fight gravity and will flow in reverse back into legs, a process called venous reflux. Varicose veins are largely caused by uncontrollable factors such as age, heredity, pregnancy and prior blood clots. People who do a lot of standing or heavy lifting tend to experience varicose veins with higher frequency. Links have been shown between the development of varicose veins and obesity, lack of exercise, and high blood pressure.
Here at Tulane University Heart and Vascular Institute, vascular specialist Corey Goldman, MD performs a cutting edge procedure, VenaCure EVLT , that can greatly reduce the appearance of unsightly varicose veins. A 45 minute laser treatment that requires no general anesthesia or hospitalization, this minimally invasive procedure is safe and proven to return legs to a smoother and more youthful state. The treatment is covered by most insurers. VenaCure EVLT allows you to eliminate varicose veins effectively, immediately and safely.
Another treatment available to reduce the appearance of swollen veins is sclerotherapy, a chemical injection that closes off affected veins until they fade. The first step in avoiding varicose veins is prevention: exercise, manage your weight and blood pressure, try not to sit or stand for long periods of time, and elevate legs above the heart occasionally.