Aging with Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are frequently occuring on the lower legs of those who are aging, with an higher risk that increases with age. Aging causes wear and tear on the valves in your veins that help regulate blood flow. Eventually, veins will enlarge as constant wear over the years causes the valves to allow some blood to flow back into them, where it collects, instead of flowing up to your heart.

Risk Factors:

·         Age: The risk of varicose veins increases with age.

·         Women: Female hormones and birth control pills tend to relax vein walls, increasing the likelihood of varicose veins.

·         Family history: Be sure to check your family history with varicose veins to see if you need to take any preventative actions.

·         Obesity: Extra pressure on your veins has a higher liklihood of damaging the valves and creating additional varicos veins.

·         Pregnancy: Varicose veins may increase due to blood volume, and hormones.

Often, varicose veins are simply a cosmetic concern, but what do you need to know about them as you age? Actions such as exercise, elevating your legs and wearing compression stockings can help ease the pain of varicose veins and may prevent them from getting worse. However, if these measures have not helped, you should visit your doctor. 

Complications to be Aware of:

·         Ulcers: Painful ulcers may form, a discolored spot on the skin usually begins before an ulcer forms. If this happens, see your doctor immediately.

·         Blood Clots:  Blood clots can be identified through pain and swelling, seek a visit with your doctor to deal with such issues.

·         Bleeding: Veins very close to the skin may burst, usually causing minor bleeding, this issue also requires medical attention.

Possible Medical Treatments:

  • Sclerotherapy: A salt (saline) or chemical solution is injected into the varicose veins.
  • Thermal Ablation: A tiny fiber is inserted into a varicose vein through a catheter. The laser or radiofrequency energy is used to deliver heat that destroys the wall of the varicose vein.
  • Vein Stripping: Removes varicose veins.
  • Microphlebectomy: Special tools inserted through small cuts (incisions) are used to remove varicose veins.