Demystifying Varicose Veins
by Marie-Andrée Guimont
published November 07, 2011
rating: (316 Ratings)
We answer your questions
Varicose veins: we see them, and sometimes, we feel them tugging at our legs. But how do these at-first-mysterious-but-quickly-overwhelming little blue trails appear? With these questions in mind, we did our homework and headed straight to the clinic. What did we learn? Here are the what, why, when and how on varicose veins, and our full report on our recent visit to epiderma.
What? Varicose veins are bluish, protruding veins, often found on the outer-thighs and behind the knees (not to be confused with spider veins, which are small red threads). Women are two to three times more likely to be affected by this condition. In addition to aesthetic considerations, varicose veins are painful, causing shooting pains and even the formation of blood clots.
Why? Varicose veins appear when a vein is damaged and expands. It no longer correctly transports blood to the heart, which creates congestion while the vein becomes blue.
When? The leading cause of varicose veins is heredity. However, hormones also play an important role in their formation: pregnant women, menopausal women, as well as women who take the birth control pill, are more likely to get varicose veins. Due to the degeneration of the veins, it appears that age is also an aggravating factor.
… prevent? Since physical activity stimulates blood circulation, remaining active slows the appearance of varicose veins. On the other hand, obesity, which creates increased pressure on the venous system, increases the chances of suffering from varicose veins. Since sustained exposure to heat is harmful, it is also advised not to take baths and showers at too high a temperature.
… treat? Varicose vein treatments ranging from least to most intensive are sclerotherapy (by injection), endovenous laser, and surgery. We focused on the former, and consulted with Dr. Marie Bergeron from medical aesthetics clinic epiderma, which now offers this treatment.
Upon our arrival, the consultation was explained to us. We began by filling out a medical questionnaire, after which we underwent an exam. At this stage, Dr. Bergeron uses an acoustic instrument (Doppler) to ensure that the venous system and arteries are working properly. If all factors allow for a safe procedure, the treatment begins.
What happens to these veins following the procedure? “They are destroyed in a few days or weeks,” explains Dr. Bergeron. And since varicose veins appear in the superficial venous system (which accounts for only 10% of blood circulation), the treatment does not pose any health risks.
The procedure lasts on average 15 minutes, and allows for 20 to 30 injections. Three solutions are injected: a sodium chloride and dextrose mix, tetradecylsufate, and a sodium iodide and diodure mix. The solution used depends on the type of varicose veins. The cost is around $200 per session.
Since this minor treatment is still complex, it is of utmost importance to feel confident before the intervention. Hence, don’t hesitate to ask any questions you may have, and make sure you trust your specialist. A quality establishment will inform you of side effects, won’t promise a quick fix, and will take care to follow up with you by telephone following your appointment.