Causes and treatment of varicose veins of the lower extremities

blood flow in the leg with varicose veins

Varicose veins of the lower extremities - the appearance of spider veins (nets) and dilated saphenous veins on the legs. The disease, which is widespread in the adult population, is more common in women than men.

The disease received this name when translated from Latin, literally means: bloating, expansion.

The first sensations with this disease are very different for each patient, but the feeling of heaviness in the legs, fast fatigue, aching pains along the length of the vein unites everyone.

Treatment should be selected by an experienced physician who can objectively assess the stage and development of the disease.

Pathology, which is often just a cosmetic defect, nevertheless, in some cases, can lead to serious complications and persistent disability.

What is varicose veins, the mechanisms of development of pathology

nodes on the legs with varicose veins

Some people after 40 years old may face a rather unpleasant situation - the appearance of varicose veins on their legs. Small purple vessels that penetrate the skin, woven into cobwebs or resembling a densely branching tree, are a serious cosmetic problem for many, especially for women. "Out of nowhere" vascular networks (in medicine, the term telangiectasia is used) is the expansion of tiny veins less than 1 millimeter in diameter located in the thickness of the skin. This is one of the signs that a person has varicose veins of the legs.

If nodes begin to protrude above the surface of the skin, soft to the touch, which become more noticeable when a person is standing, then we can talk about another manifestation. This is a more serious pathology - varicose enlargement of the main veins (large and small saphenous), as well as their branches.

Veins in the legs are soft, thin-walled channels that return blood to the heart. In order to counteract the force of gravity, nature has provided them with valves, which prevent backflow (reflux) of blood. There are two venous systems on the lower limbs: superficial and deep. The first is represented by the vessels that are under the skin, so they can be seen. The second is the deep veins of the legs, located next to the bones in the thickness of the muscles. There are communications between these systems - perforating veins.

The inability of the valves to perform their function leads to stagnation of blood in the lower sections, the discharge of its "excess" through the perforating veins from deep to superficial. This, in turn, creates increased pressure in the venous system of the legs, located under the skin. What makes her vessels react to this is "wriggle and lengthen". And that's why varicose veins in the legs occur.

Reasons for development

There are many conditions that result in valve damage and loss of elasticity in the vessel wall. There are decisive causes of varicose veins in the legs, which are most often associated with this disease:

  • Age. Over the years, our veins lose their elasticity and begin to expand. The valves also "coarse", lose elasticity, and cease to perform their function normally.
  • Pregnancy is accompanied by an increase in the volume of blood in the body, and also helps to slow down its movement in the lower extremities (the large uterus presses on the veins of the small pelvis). Changes in hormonal levels during pregnancy also play a role. As a rule, the symptoms of varicose veins without treatment are resolved within 12 months after childbirth.

The resulting telangiectasias (or, as many doctors incorrectly call them, capillary varicose veins), the causes of the appearance on the face and legs are often associated with exposure to solar radiation. Therefore, women who want to avoid this cosmetic problem need to choose - either a beautiful tan or a vascular mesh.

Risk factors

Varicose veins is a multifactorial pathology.

  • Floor. Women are more likely to develop this disease. Hormonal imbalances that occur during pregnancy, premenstrual period and menopause can be considered a risk factor, as it relaxes the vein wall for a long time. Hormone replacement therapy or long-term use of birth control pills also increase the risk of "getting" varicose veins.
  • Heredity.
  • Obesity.
  • Prolonged standing or sitting (office workers, surgeons, drivers).
  • Alcohol abuse. Alcohol and varicose veins also have a definite connection.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

At first, the disease may not cause any discomfort, it can be suspected when the following symptoms appear:

  • the formation of spider veins, nets on the legs (expansion of the intradermal vessels of pink, blue, purple);
  • veins become "twisted", protrude above the surface of the skin, like cords, interrupted by knots.

Later, the following symptoms may join:

  • tired legs;
  • burning, throbbing, muscle cramps and swelling in the lower extremities;
  • worsening of the manifestations of the disease if a person is in a standing or sitting position for a long time;
  • itching around "swollen" vessels;
  • bleeding from varicose veins;
  • painful, local hardening of the vessel site;
  • changes in skin color or ulceration in the ankle area.

The disease is diagnosed on the basis of the data obtained during the examination and questioning of the patient. To assess the severity of the pathology (how the valves function, the presence of a blood clot in the veins), Doppler ultrasound is usually sufficient.

Pathology treatment

If a diagnosis is made of "varicose veins of the legs", this does not mean that there is a need for a long stay in the hospital. Thanks to modern minimally invasive procedures, pathology is usually treated on an outpatient basis.

Change your lifestyle or help yourself

There are several self-help methods that reduce the discomfort of varicose veins and help prevent further varicose veins. Here is some of them:

  • Regular exercise. Move as much as possible. Regular walking is a great physical activity that can improve blood circulation in your legs. How much load will be optimal - you can ask your doctor about this.
  • Constant control over your weight, the excess of which has a detrimental effect on the vessels of the legs. Do not forget about salt, an excessive intake of which in the body causes fluid retention, which increases the load on the veins.
  • Pay attention to what you are wearing. Shoes with low heels, in contrast to high heels, make the muscle-venous pump on the legs work - the gastrocnemius muscle. Avoid wearing tight trousers around the groin and waist as this can impair blood flow.
  • Keep your feet up as often as possible. To do this, several times a day you need to take breaks and raise your legs above the level of the heart, for example, lie down and put them on pillows.
  • Avoid sitting or standing for a long time.

Compression therapy

Usually, the initial stages of varicose veins of the lower extremities are treated with compression hosiery. External compression prevents the veins from swelling, which in turn improves the movement of blood through the vessels.

Additional treatments for a more serious situation

If lifestyle modifications and the use of compression hosiery do not improve the symptoms, and also if the stages of varicose veins (subcompensation and decompensation) do not allow you to cope with the pathology on your own, the following treatment options come to the rescue:

  • Sclerotherapy.The procedure, which does not require major anesthesia, is performed on an outpatient basis. The doctor injects a special substance (sclerosant) into the varicose veins, which glues the walls.
  • Foam sclerotherapy.In contrast to the usual technique, in this technique, the sclerosant is injected into a vein after mixing it with a gas (usually air), which makes it possible to treat veins of a larger diameter.
  • Laser surgery. . . The new technology, which removes small varicose veins and vascular networks, is performed without skin incisions and vessel piercing.
  • Intravenous radiofrequency or laser ablation. . . A technique involving the introduction of a catheter into the lumen of a vein, at the tip of which there is a radiofrequency or laser energy emitter.
  • Safeno-femoral ligation and stripping of the great saphenous vein. . . The first procedure involves bandaging and removing the upper section of the vein. During the second, a special probe is inserted into the lumen of the vessel (two incisions are preliminarily made: one in the groin area, the second at the level of the upper third of the lower leg) and extends along its entire length. Then it is removed along with the dilated vein.
  • Ambulatory phlebectomy. . . The doctor removes small dilated veins, while making several micro-incisions in the skin. Scars are usually almost invisible.
  • Endoscopic Vein Surgery. . . It is usually performed when the patient has an advanced stage of varicose veins of the lower extremities (ulcers appear) or, previous methods of treatment, were ineffective.

Varicose veins that appear during pregnancy usually disappear without any treatment within 12 months after delivery.

Alternative medicine

There is a wide arsenal of alternative treatments for chronic venous insufficiency, a condition associated with varicose veins. The following remedies are most often used for this pathology:

  • butcher's broom;
  • grapes (leaves, juice, seed extract);
  • horse chestnut;
  • sweet clover.

Before using any herb or dietary supplement, you need to make sure that these complementary medicines are compatible with your doctor's prescribed medications and that they are safe for your specific situation. Therefore, before taking them, you should consult with your doctor.


There is no universal, guaranteed way that could prevent the development of varicose veins on the legs. Nevertheless, there are preventive measures that help reduce the chances of getting new manifestations of the disease, improve its symptoms. Here is some of them:

  • Physical activity (regular sports, where the legs are "involved", for example, walking or running, improves blood circulation in the lower extremities, strengthens blood vessels).
  • Weight control (extra pounds increase the load on the lower limbs (pressure in the veins).
  • Do not cross your legs while sitting.
  • During rest, raise them above the level of the heart.
  • Try to avoid being in a motionless standing or sitting position.
  • Diet (less salt and more fiber).

It is also worth rinsing your feet with cold water after a shower or bath. Try to visit baths or saunas less often.

Varicose veins on the legs are a widespread problem, the incidence among men ranges from 10 to 20%, and in women it reaches 33%. Unfortunately, it is impossible to completely recover from this ailment. But new minimally invasive techniques used in medicine can improve symptoms. Early treatment in the early stages of the disease can prevent the development of serious complications.