What Are Varicose Veins?

Venous Insufficiency ProcedureVeins are the vessels that return blood to the heart once it has circulated through the body (as opposed to arteries, which carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the body). They have one-way valves that help keep blood flowing in the proper direction. If these valves stop functioning the way they are supposed to, blood can flow backwards and pool in the vein, causing it to stretch.

Varicose veins are swollen, dark blue or purple blood vessels that you can see and feel beneath the skin. Varicose veins form when the valves within a vein weaken and allow some blood to flow backward. The vein weakens under the additional strain and balloons outward, bulging under the skin surface. This venous disease is characterized by twisted cords of veins that bulge above the skin’s surface. Common areas in which varicose veins occur include the calves and thighs.

Studies have shown that 55% of American women develop varicose veins, but men may also experience this problem. According to research, up to 45% of men in our country have some type of problematic vein issue in their lifetime. Clients with varicose veins may develop aching, throbbing, cramping, itching, ulcers and other symptoms that may indicate a need for medical attention.

Causes And Risks Factors Of Varicose Veins

While varicose veins can affect nearly anyone, they tend to occur more often in clients possessing certain risk factors, including:

  • Obesity
  • Older age
  • Genetics
  • Hormones
  • Pregnancy
  • Prolonged standing or sitting
  • Lack of physical activity

What Are the Symptoms of Varicose Veins?

The primary indicator of varicose veins is the obvious appearance of bulging vessels. Additional symptoms include:

  • Restless legs
  • A sensation of “heaviness”
  • Swelling
  • Cramping, throbbing, or aching pain that worsens with inactivity
  • Itching
  • Skin discoloration (in severe cases)

Generally, varicose veins do not pose a serious health threat. However, certain conditions may result from untreated venous insufficiency, including bleeding, skin ulceration, superficial blood clotting, or deep vein thrombosis, or deeper clots. Our trained professionals may examine varicose veins using ultrasound in order to assess the risk for any of these concerns.

How Are Varicose Veins Diagnosed?

At Blossom Bariatrics, our trained professionals will conduct an ultrasound to evaluate the structure and blood flow within the veins. Once diagnosed with venous insufficiency, Dr. Umbach or Dr. Apel will talk to you about treatment options.

What Are My Treatment Options For Varicose Veins?

While healthy weight, physical activity, and compression garments may reduce the effects of varicose veins, these modifications may not be sufficient for some people. Many people with venous disease seek treatment to reduce the symptoms and unsightly appearance of varicose or spider veins on the legs. At Blossom Bariatrics, we treat venous insufficiency with radio frequency ablation which is a simple outpatient procedure, done in our office. Treatment often relieves discomfort associated with the condition such as swelling, fatigue, itching and cramps. However, sometimes more significant problems can develop if abnormal veins are left untreated. If venous insufficiency is left alone, it can lead to ulcers or open wounds on the legs. Left untreated, serious medical consequences may result.


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