Often when people have varicose veins, the thing they are most worried about is their appearance. The real concern, as most doctors know, is the health issues that can occur. If left untreated, varicose veins will not only continue to be unsightly and painful, but may also develop into a medical risk.
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What Healthy Veins Look Like
Healthy veins are designed to efficiently carry deoxygenated blood back to their heart. The cells that form the interior walls of these blood vessels align themselves in an orderly fashion, creating a surface that is smooth and allowing the free passage of blood. This is important, because unlike arteries, veins don’t have as many interior muscles that pump the blood. The pumping action comes from the contraction of nearby muscles. For it to work properly, the vein walls have to be smooth, so the blood passes through them easily. To ensure the blood moves in the right direction, veins have a series of valves. The valves open to allow blood to pass through, on its way to the heart. They then close afterwards, keeping it from flowing back in.
What Diseased Veins Look Like
Veins that have developed chronic vein disease (CVD) are no longer working efficiently. They have structural differences that keep them from working properly. The most common characteristics doctors see in varicose veins are:
- The interior vein walls become less smooth, — disordered and inflamed – this means they are less able to allow blood to pass through efficiently.
- The venous valves (gates) that allow blood to flow back into the veins become dysfunctional and no longer close properly.
When left untreated, CVD progresses and causes inflammation to the vein walls which could lead to serious health problems. Doctors believe that inflammation plays a strong part in why the cell walls of varicose veins become as disordered, chaotic, and inefficient. Slower blood flow is the most common cause of venous inflammation. So the longer the cell walls of varicose veins remain untreated, the more inflamed they become.
How to Know The Health of Your Veins
Treatment is the best way to eliminate the symptoms and reduce the risks related to varicose veins. As every case is different, we tailor our treatments to your unique case. Because varicose veins are a medical concern, it is important to discuss your symptoms with your GP or schedule a venous health screening at The Vein Institute. We will perform a medical examination using state-of-the-art venous duplex ultrasound and can tell you in a few minutes whether the swelling is caused by your varicose veins or not. If it is, our experts can tell you what the different treatment options are, and help you to select the treatment that best suits you.