Monday, November 15, 2010
ROCHESTER, Minn. — Varicose veins — dark, gnarly veins snaking down legs — aren't pretty. The November issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource covers the cause of these enlarged and twisted veins and what can be done about them.
Varicose veins can occur anywhere, but most commonly occur on the legs and feet. They develop when the valves in a vein weaken, causing the blood to pool. This pressure changes the size and shape of a vein.
Varicose veins can be quite noticeable. Usually, they look worse than they feel. They can cause achy or heavy feelings in the legs. Rarely, varicose veins can contribute to serious complications such as a blood clot in the vein.
Lifestyle changes can help reduce discomfort from varicose veins. Options include avoiding long periods of sitting or standing; being physically active; and, if needed, losing weight. Compression stockings, available over-the-counter and by prescription, can help keep blood from pooling.
Several surgical procedures are options when varicose veins don't respond to lifestyle changes.
Most of these procedures are done on an outpatient basis. While they are effective, it's possible for varicose veins to recur or require several treatments. Insurance companies typically cover procedures used to relieve pain, swelling or other problematic symptoms. Most policies don't cover procedures done for strictly cosmetic reasons.
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