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Women and Varicose Vein Issues

by Jane Meggitt

Varicose veins affect women more often than men, and part of that is the result of changes during pregnancy. While the majority of men suffering from varicose veins are over 50, many women with the condition are still in their childbearing years. In fact, pregnancy itself often triggers varicose veins. The enlarging uterus puts pressure on the inferior vena cava, the large vein on the body’s right side. This adds pressure to leg veins. Women who have undergone multiple pregnancies are at the greatest risk for developing varicose veins. Add a job involving standing much of the day, and the risk increases further.

Cosmetic Issues May Mask Serious Problems

Women generally seek treatment for varicose veins not because the enlarged veins hurt, but because they are unsightly. Women feel forced to wear pants or dark hose to hide these embarrassing bulges on their legs. However, varicose veins may also indicate internal health problems, so doctors should give such patients a thorough examination. That involves undergoing an ultrasound to determine whether blood clots or deep vein malformations exist. A pelvic ultrasound checks for any growths in the area putting pressure on the inferior vena cava. There are some rare conditions causing vein compromise, and an ultrasound can unmask them.

If the vein issues are cosmetic, insurance companies won’t cover treatment costs. If there is an underlying issue that doesn’t respond to non-invasive therapy, insurers may cover invasive procedures.

Non-invasive Treatments

Simple, non-invasive treatments involve lifestyle changes and wearing compression stockings. Lifestyle changes include:

  • Weight loss through diet and exercise
  • Increased walking
  • Keeping legs elevated whenever possible, such as when watching TV

For many patients, wearing compression stockings during waking hours and making lifestyle changes are enough to resolve varicose vein issues such as pain and swelling. If the patient makes the lifestyle changes but the vein problems don’t improve after several months, the next step is an invasive procedure.

Invasive Procedures

The doctor will determine which of several procedures best suits an individual patient. That may include:

  • Using radiofrequency or lasers to seal the vein via heating
  • Injecting a chemical into the vein – sclerotherapy – which seals it
  • Vein stripping, a surgical procedure for larger varicose veins which requires anesthesia

The first two procedures are done on an outpatient basis, and usually don’t take more than 30 minutes. While all are effective and relatively safe, there is a slight risk of temporary skin discoloration from a laser.

If you or someone you know would like to learn more about vein treatment, please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!

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