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Varicose Veins Affect More than Appearances January 14, 2010

FOR MORE INFORMATION, contact Rebecca Sylvester at 706/828-2394.

Varicose Veins Affect More than Appearances

AUGUSTA, GA. (Jan. 14, 2010) – If unsightly veins have caused you to push your skirts to the back of your closet, realize that this condition can affect more than your wardrobe choices.

Varicose veins are gnarled, enlarged veins close to the skin's surface that generally develop in the legs and feet due to pressure in the lower body, according to Beth Barranco, R.N., from University Hospital and medical correspondent for NBC Augusta’s Healthy U segment.

“With aging, the veins may lose elasticity, or the valves in the veins may begin to leak, causing blood to pool in the veins in your legs,” Mrs. Barranco said. The signs and symptoms of varicose veins include:

  • large, twisted veins under the skin on the legs
  • an achy or heavy feeling in the legs or burning, throbbing, muscle cramping and swelling in the lower legs
  • brownish-gray discoloration on the ankles
  • itching around the veins

The risk factors for varicose veins include:

  • Age. Varicose veins usually appear in people between the ages of 30-70.
  • Gender. Women are more likely than men to develop varicose veins.
  • Family history
  • Obesity
  • Standing or sitting for long periods of time

Mrs. Barranco said that varicose veins cannot be prevented completely, but some ways to avoid them are:

  • exercising daily
  • controlling your weight
  • elevating your legs
  • avoiding long periods of sitting and standing
  • not crossing your legs while sitting

People with varicose veins should consult a physician when they experience the following:

  • Sudden and severe leg swelling with pain. This could indicate deep vein thrombosis, a life-threatening complication of varicose veins.
  • The veins become tender, lumpy and turning red, possibly indicating phlebitis.
  • An ulcer forms at the site of the vein, the veins bleed or you tear the skin over the vein.

There are minimally invasive treatment options including closing off or removing the offending veins through one or two tiny incisions that leave little or no scarring, Mrs. Barranco said.

If you have more questions about varicose veins or need help finding a vascular surgeon who treats them, please call ASK-A-NURSE at 706/737-8423. Healthy U airs every Tuesday morning at 6:20 a.m. on NBC Augusta.

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