Varicose veins mostly affect women. Obesity and pregnancy can make them worse and there is a strong genetic link.
If left untreated, severe varicose veins have several risks. Varicose veins are caused by insufficient veins. The veins in the legs have valves in them which keep the blood flowing up toward the heart. When the valves are not working efficiently, the blood flows backwards, putting pressure on the valves and buckling them.
"The blood pressure in the leg is higher than it otherwise would be, it causes distension and distortion of the of venus circulation," interventional cardiologist Dr. Stephen Dempsey said.
Most patients have symptoms including pain in the leg, achy, burning, itching and cramping in the legs, especially at night.
And while you can't prevent varicose veins, you can slow down their progression.
"Maintain an active lifestyle, optimal weight," Dr. Dempsey advises.
Veins can be ablated with a laser. The office procedure takes about an hour. Using an ultrasound, the vein is located, numbed with a local anesthetic and a laser fiber is then slid into the vein. The laser is turned on which causes the heat to close down the vein. The laser is then slowly pulled out and a Band-Aid is placed on the incision and the patient is free to walk.
Many patients wonder if the circulation will be affected. If they remove one or several veins in their legs, will the circulation be affected? According to the doctor, there will certainly be a change but it will be for the better.
"The other veins in the individual’s leg are already working overtime, so when you ablate one of the abnormal veins, you improve the overall circulation in that person’s leg,” Dr. Dempsey said.