The varicose veins, in fact, look like groups of worms swimming in your sea of muscles, which unlike models’ pair of legs looking smooth and perfect all the time. Varicose veins are dilated, tortuous veins that you can usually see at the calf of the lower limb in certain individuals. The adult prevalence of studies of varicose veins is 25-30 percent in women and 15 percent in men.
Few facts that you might not know about your veins (except that they carry blood back to your heart):
- Your veins have valves. This prevents the backflow of blood especially when the blood flows against the force of gravity. If one does not have valves in the veins, standing upright will allow the pooling of blood at the base of your body, and nope, this is not competent in life.
- What force pulls the blood up into the heart? Pressure. When you breathe in, the negative pressure in the thorax propels the blood upwards. Things flow/move from high-pressure region to low-pressure region. Never skip your physics class.
- Arteries nearby help too. The arteries nearby transmit pulsations which indirectly cause the propulsion of blood in the veins.
What’s wrong with varicose veins?
Weakness in the vein wall causes the dilation and seperation of valve cusps so they become incompetent. There are a few conditions that might lead to incompetence of the veins, such as:
- Having venous obstruction or inflammation
- Thrombosis (blood clots formed in the veins)
- Collagen vascular disease
- Pregnancy (the amount of blood to carry is increased, thus increases the strain of the veins. As the womb grows larger each day, it puts pressure on veins in your pelvic area, causing them to varicose.)
- It’s in your gene.
- Obese individuals and people who work long period of standing (eg surgeons and lecturers) have increased risk of developing varicose veins too.
Varicose veins are classified according to its severity. Let’s have a look at them one by one. (Fancy names and gross gallery alert!)
Also known as spider veins, thread veins, hyphen webs. This is very commonly seen in a lot of individuals, and this can occur in either the legs, lips or fingers. They are small dilated veins near the skin surface or mucous membrane, usually less than 1mm.
Dilated blue or green veins measuring 1-3mm. The presence of reticular veins and telangiectasia only suggests the diagnosis but does not confirm it.
When the vein is so dilated it appears at the lump at the groin region, it is termed as saphena varix. This is usually painless.
With the increase of pressure in the veins, leakage of fluid occurs, causing oedema.
Brown discoloration of the skin usually at the gaiter area (picture below).
Exfoliative skin disease resulting in itchiness, redness, and blistering.
It is a chronic inflammation and fibrosis of the skin and tissues.
Whitish plaque around the ankle region.
How to get rid of these “worms”?
Wearing compression hosiery (stockings) will help in those with mild symptoms. It is actually proven to improve varicose veins symptoms (eg pain). However, stockings too tight might cause complications too! Be aware of the choice of hosiery, your doctor knows best.
Surgical methods like the injection of agents into the veins to make them disappear and stripping of veins are alternatives for individuals with more severe symptoms.
Do you suffer from varicose veins, or is there someone in your family who does? Let us know how you manage it.
The Vein Clinic
by Angie Loh
A medical student with nothing but passion and a pen. Poems and novels never fail to make me feel alive. I'm inspired to make the world a better place and fill it with a little bit more love. But first, where's my coffee? View all articles by Angie Loh.