The circulatory system consists of two types of vessels: the arteries, which carry blood from the heart to the organs and the veins. The venous system in the human body performs the function of returning blood from the tissues and organs to the heart.
Each vein, regardless of size, consists of a wall and a lumen filled with blood and is equipped with venous valves that block the downward flow of blood (flow through the veins of the lower extremities usually moves from the bottom up). Diseases of the veins are usually caused by abnormalities in the structure of the venous walls and valves. One of the most common venous diseases is varicose veins.
What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are a disease that is accompanied by weakness of the venous wall and venous valves, resulting in slowed blood flow, blood pooling in the veins, leading to their expansion, the formation of venous networks and nodes. Women are more prone to developing varicose veins than men (due to the effect of estrogen on the venous wall and the increased pressure on the venous system during pregnancy). The risk of varicose veins increases with age (due to the fact that the veins lose their elasticity), so varicose veins are extremely rare in children and adolescents.
Due to the fact that the load on the veins of the lower half of the body is greater than in the venous vessels of the upper half, varicose veins develop in the legs and in the area of the pelvic organs. Varicose veins of the lower extremities, as a rule, affect the superficial (external) veins in the legs. There are several types of superficial veins in the legs:
- spider veins (expansion of small intradermal veins).
- reticular varicose veins (damage to the clear veins of the system of small and large clear veins with the formation of venous nodes).
- non-clear veins (veins that do not belong to the vessels of the system of small and large clear veins).
Small pelvic varicose veins are a type of internal varicose veins and are represented by inguinal varicose veins, uterine varicose veins, varicose veins in the penis. One of the most common types of varicose veins in men is varicose veins (testicular varicose veins), which manifests itself in scrotum pain, sexual dysfunction and premature ejaculation.
Varicose veins signs
In the early stages the varicose veins are asymptomatic. Signs of varicose veins appear when the affected blood vessels no longer experience the function of bleeding.
Varicose veins contribute to the stagnation of blood in the area of expansion. Symptoms of varicose veins include:
- the appearance of a visually perceptible vascular network and swollen veins (unlike atherosclerosis, a chronic arterial disease in which blood flow to the lower extremities is reduced).
- feeling of heaviness in the legs and dilation of the veins.
- swelling of the feet;
- itchy and dark skin on the legs above the vein.
Varicose veins are a chronic, constantly evolving disease, leading to the formation of venous insufficiency (venous system dysfunction). The development of varicose veins takes place in stages:
- first degree varicose veins (enlargement of the veins is asymptomatic).
- second degree varicose veins (swelling, heaviness in the legs, itching).
- third degree varicose veins (swelling and severity are constantly disturbed, skin ulcers appear, pain in the area of the affected veins).
The symptoms of varicose veins often increase at night and intensify after intense physical exertion. In summer, the signs of varicose veins are more intense than in winter (as in hot weather there is a tendency for vasodilation and blood viscosity increases).
Why do varicose veins appear?
There is no single reason for the appearance of varicose veins. The development of varicose veins is facilitated by overweight, heavy physical exertion and work associated with prolonged sitting, genetic predisposition to venous valve weakness and inflammation of the veins. Varicose veins in women often develop during pregnancy and after childbirth due to the fact that uterine enlargement and tension during childbirth increase the load on a woman's venous system.
Varicose vein complications
As a result of the prolonged development of varicose veins, unpleasant consequences of varicose veins can develop. One of the complications of varicose veins is the appearance of blood clots (blood clots) in the lumen of the dilated veins, which can break, reach smaller vessels with blood flow and clog them, leading to thrombosis. Due to chronic venous insufficiency, nutritional disorders of the skin are formed: ulcers appear above the enlarged veins, which heal little and are prone to infection.
Diagnosis of varicose veins
A venologist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of varicose veins. During the consultation, the venologist examines the veins and touches them (feels them), measures the circumference of the left and right foot to reveal hidden swelling.
For the diagnosis of varicose veins, an ultrasound (ultrasound) of the vessels with a Doppler ultrasound (determination of blood flow) is also prescribed. Ultrasound allows not only the visualization of the venous wall, but also the determination of the presence of blood clots in the lumen of the varicose veins.
Varicose veins treatment methods
The Department of Phlebology uses both conservative and surgical methods to treat varicose veins. Conservative (non-surgical) treatment of varicose veins consists of the use of drugs and the use of medical compression underwear. Properly selected treatment can reduce the symptoms of varicose veins and prevent the appearance of new varicose veins, however, existing venous disorders can only be eliminated with surgery.
Surgical treatment of varicose veins is the removal of dilated veins (phlebectomy). An alternative to phlebectomy is the minimally invasive methods of treating varicose veins. Minimally invasive surgical methods for treating varicose veins include sclerotherapy and laser treatment of varicose veins.
Laser varicose vein treatment
Laser treatment of varicose veins is performed with laser intravenous coagulation: under ultrasound control, an electrode is inserted into the vein lumen, with the help of which the inner surface of the venous wall is cauterized with a laser. As a result of laser cauterization, coagulation of the venous wall occurs, after which the vein atrophies on its own. Minimally invasive laser treatment of varicose veins is performed under local anesthesia. The advantages of laser treatment of varicose veins are the absence of scars and the relative (compared to vein removal) painless procedure.
Minimally invasive treatment of varicose veins is performed in outpatient clinics (without hospitalization). Recovery after laser treatment of varicose veins, as a rule, does not last more than a month. During this period, it is necessary to wear a compression bandage and limit sports.
To prevent varicose veins, you should reduce weight, exclude weight lifting and prolonged sitting, prefer loose clothing. To prevent varicose veins in the early stages of the disease, regular use of special medical compression underwear and moderate physical activity (walking, swimming, exercise) helps.
What can not be done with varicose veins?
Varicose veins are a disease, the development of which is closely related to lifestyle. With the presence of varicose veins, you can not lift weights, engage in those sports that increase the load on the vessels of the lower half of the body (heavyweight sports). It is necessary to exclude a long stay in a sitting position (if you work in an office and have to sit for a long time - take a five-minute break for walking or exercising every hour) and also try not to wear tight clothes.
How to treat varicose veins on the legs in women?
With the problem of varicose veins in the legs, a woman should consult a venologist. With the presence of varicose veins in the legs or thighs, the doctor will help you choose the necessary compression underwear. If there are signs (signs of venous insufficiency, protruding venous nodes, aesthetic discomfort), surgical removal of varicose veins may be recommended. The decision on the type of intervention to be recommended to a woman is made by the doctor based on the results of the examination and examination.
How to treat varicose veins at home?
Varicose veins are a disease of the veins that must be treated by a venologist. Most of the appointments of the venologist can be made at home: do a special exercise that improves blood flow from the lower extremities and pelvis, wear compression underwear and take medication prescribed by your doctor. Self-treatment of varicose veins with folk remedies is ineffective and exposure to the veins with herbal compresses can lead to skin ulceration.