Aging has its pluses: wisdom, experience, seniority, not spending half your income at bars, senior discounts, and a few other things.
But it has lots of items on the other side of the ledger, particularly when it comes to the sagging and weakening inherent in older tissues and other body structures.
One of those is our veins, particularly those in our legs. Aging legs often have an odd phenomenon that looks something like mole or gopher tunnels coursing about on the surface skin. Varicose veins. Varicose veins make up the often-raised, usually purple or blue, serpentine formations on older legs. While they are unsightly, varicose veins can also be quite painful and a sign of other health issues.
At Premier Heart and Vein Care, Dr. Stevens has different methods available for treating varicose veins. But in this month’s first blog, let’s get into the what’s and how’s of varicose veins.
What are varicose veins?
While our arteries are tasked with distributing oxygenated blood throughout the body, our veins have the job of returning the deoxygenated blood back to the heart. In the legs, this means having to fight gravity the entire way. Prolonged standing, as for some occupations, also increases the pressure on our legs and feet.
If the vein walls weaken, blood can push them outward, and it can pool. This enlarges the veins and makes them more serpentine than when blood flow is efficient. If this pooling occurs near the surface skin, the vein can push up the skin giving the appearance of a raised path not unlike a mole tunnel on Laguna Lake Golf Course. This is a varicose vein.
In most cases, varicose veins are simply a cosmetic issue, making a person avoid wearing shorts or bathing suits to keep their varicose veins covered. Other people have painful varicose veins, and sometimes these can lead to more serious health issues.
How do varicose veins develop?
Blow flow returning to the heart is a tough climb out of the feet and up through the legs. Our muscles and the support tissues that surround our veins usually help push the blood upward by squeezing the veins slightly as we move our legs and feet. But as we age, these tissues weaken and don’t provide the same degree of support.
And the veins weaken, as well. Their walls become less rigid, and this allows the blood to push outward in spots, making the veins form a more meandering path. The valves that prevent backflow in the veins can also begin to fail or at least leak. This allows blood to pool in spots. This widens the veins.
All of this leads to the purple, often raised, curves of varicose veins. These are purple because they are carrying deoxygenated blood.
There, now you’ve passed Varicose Veins 101. If you have these bulging veins on your legs, it’s time to come see Dr. Stevens and our team at Premier Heart & Vein Care. Call us at (805) 979-4777 to schedule your appointment.