Yes, ladies, unfortunately it’s true – the mere fact that you have two X chromosomes making you a woman also puts you at greater risk for developing varicose veins in your lifetime compared to men. In fact, up to 50 percent of American women may be affected at some point in their lives, according to the American College of Phlebology. Approximately 22 million women in the United States, between 40 and 80 years old, have varicose veins. These painful, bulging veins are a very common problem, and not purely a cosmetic issue. Often, varicose veins are accompanied by significant physical symptoms including a tired, heavy feeling in the legs, as well as swelling, throbbing, itching, and burning sensations. In these cases, health insurance companies consider varicose veins to be a medical problem and many plans will cover the cost of treatment.
Why Are Women at Greater Risk?
The answer is hormones. For women, hormones are a fact of life, particularly estrogen and progesterone which impact menstrual cycles, physical development and pregnancy. Veins do not have a strong muscular layer, like arteries do, to move blood along. Instead, they rely on one-way valves that prevent blood from flowing backwards. They also depend on the muscles in your legs to help push the blood back to your heart. Changes in hormone levels can reduce how well these valves work and can also weaken the vein walls. As a result, the vein walls stretch out and allow blood to build up inside the vein. This causes the bulging appearance that is characteristic of varicose veins. Pregnancy can also play a factor because of the increased volume of blood that pregnant women carry – and studies have also shown that a woman’s risk for venous insufficiency increases with each pregnancy.
Ignoring the Problem Can Make It Worse
Some women may have varicose veins and not even know it! Sometimes varicose veins are not visible but exist beneath the surface of the skin causing legs to feel tired and heavy at the end of the day. Once present, varicose veins cannot resolve on their own. Preventative measures such as wearing compression hose and walking frequently can delay the progression of the condition and relieve some of the associated discomfort, but treatment is required to eliminate the problem completely. If you think you may have varicose veins, it is important to seek an assessment by a qualified expert. Left untreated, varicose veins can lead to serious complications including blood clots, bleeding and leg ulcers.
Treatment Is Easier Than You Think
A top vein expert is able to treat varicose veins in an office setting, saving patients thousands of dollars on hospital bills. Treatment is minimally invasive and performed using local anesthesia only. Procedures are virtually painless with little to no scarring. Patients can drive themselves home after the procedure and resume normal activity the next day. (So no worries about taking time off from chasing those kiddos around!) With over 20 years in practice, Dr. Hoyle of Advanced Vein Center is the most experienced vein doctor in all of Southern California and actually pioneered some of the procedures used today! He is a fellow of the American College of Phlebology, having authored two texts for the association. He is an accomplished lecturer and physician educator – teaching other doctors about treating vein disease.
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Advanced Vein Center