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Varicose veins are something that people often leap to conclusions about. The most common is that only older people are affected, and another is that only women are affected. In fact, neither of these things are the case, as this article will demonstrate.
You may think that you have nothing in common with a double Olympic gold-medallist, but if you have varicose veins then you already do. Summer Sanders won gold at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics in both the 200m butterfly and 400m relay medley swimming events but by 2006, at the age of only 34, she had noticed her first varicose vein. Sanders has talked publicly about her condition and about her mother also having varicose veins. This is no surprise, as heredity is one of the factors that can increase your chances of developing the condition.
It is very common for pregnant women to develop varicose veins. The combined weight of the baby, placenta and uterus places pressure on the veins of the pelvic area, as well as on the inferior vena cava, the large vein that returns de-oxygenated blood from the lower half of the body to the heart. The pregnancy hormone Progesterone also relaxes the walls of the blood vessels and these factors added together often result in the condition arising.
These terms may all sound very dramatic but, in fact, the varicose veins brought on by pregnancy tend to resolve themselves within 3 to 12 months of the birth. Unfortunately though, if they don’t, then the effects do tend to get worse with each pregnancy.
Being overweight is one of the factors that can increase your chances of developing varicose veins (though this increase does appear to be more pronounced in women than in men). When people are overweight, it places an additional strain on the veins as the process of pumping blood back to the heart becomes more difficult. In turn, this increases the pressure which is being placed on the valves found within your veins. Hence, the valves become more at risk of leaking and causing varicose veins.
As we’ve established, you don’t need to be an older person to develop varicose veins. Even without adding in factors like weight or pregnancy, some people will have inherited a greater genetic likelihood of developing them. If the walls of your veins are thinner due to heredity, you are more likely to experience varicose veins at some stage of your life.
What can you do help prevent varicose veins?
It may not be possible to prevent the onset of varicose veins or to stop the existing condition getting worse. It might be possible to gain symptomatic relief via the following advice though:
Try not to spend too long in the one position, whether sitting or standing. You should try to move around every half an hour.
Elevating your legs while resting can ease discomfort.
Regular exercise will both improve circulation and help to maintain a healthy weight.
If you have varicose veins, how can we help?
As we’ve established, many different people can be affected by varicose veins so there’s no need to feel awkward about arranging a consultation on this matter. Our Consultant Vascular Surgeon will spend time with you, discussing your veins and also the outcome that you’re looking for from treatment. We offer a range of day-case procedures, meaning that you’ll be able to avoid an overnight hospital stay, while still having the reassurance of excellent nursing care and post-treatment follow up.
If you choose to use private medical insurance, you will need to be referred to The Edinburgh Clinic by your GP. We recommend contacting your insurer first to check that treatment will be covered by your existing policy.
If you choose to self-fund your treatment then please contact us directly so that we can arrange a consultation for you.