According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approximately half of Americans age 50 and older have varicose veins. These veins appear to bulge from the skin and are dark purple or blue in color. They are most commonly located in the legs and are caused by the pooling of blood in enlarged veins.
“Veins in a person’s legs pump blood from the legs back up to the heart and should only allow blood to flow in one direction,” says Alan Zeitlin, MD, Vascular Surgeon for Flushing Hospital. “When a person’s veins become weak and allow blood to flow away from the heart, blood pools and the veins in that area become stretched or enlarged, thereby, creating a varicose vein.”
While varicose veins are very common among both men and women, there are several factors that can increase a person’s risk of being affected. This includes:
- Hormonal changes, such as puberty, pregnancy, and menopause
- Increasing age
- Sun exposure
The Dangers of Varicose Veins
Not only can varicose veins cause discomfort and embarrassment for the men and women who have them, but they can also sometimes lead to more serious health conditions. If left untreated, varicose veins can lead to:
- Blood Clots- Blood clots are extremely dangerous, as they may dislodge from the vein and travel to the lungs or heart, preventing either from functioning properly.
- Sores and Ulcers- Varicose veins may lead to sores and ulcers of the skin because of long-term buildup of fluid.
Varicose veins may also cause ongoing swelling, rashes, and pain, and can increase a person’s chances of infection.
Seeking Medical Attention
Varicose veins may signal a higher risk for circulatory problems. If you have varicose veins that cause pain, swelling, itching, tiredness, or numbness in the legs, you should seek medical attention. Flushing Hospital offers a variety of options to treat varicose veins.
“Treatment methods of the past were often quite invasive, “Dr. Zeitlin says. “Today, however, most procedures are minimally invasive and allow patients a quick recovery.”
Treatment options available at Flushing Hospital include:
- Sclerotherapy: A solution is injected to seal off the area in which blood is pooling.
- Laser treatment: Without the use of needles or incisions, strong bursts of light are delivered precisely onto varicose veins to make them fade and eventually disappear.
- Endovenous Radiofrequency: A catheter is inserted into the vein and radiofrequency or laser energy seals the vein wall. This approach is used in treating deeper varicose veins.
- Surgical litigation and stripping: Varicose veins are removed entirely.
If you have varicose veins and would like to schedule a consultation with a vascular surgeon at Flushing Hospital, please call 718-544-0442.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.