My Grandmother had Varicose Veins. Will I?
If you’re worried about getting painful, visible varicose veins, you’re not alone. Around 23% of the U.S. population has some level of varicose veins. However, this number rises to about 80% of the population if you include spider veins and reticular veins as well. While they affect both men and women, women are at higher risk of developing them because of hormones and pregnancy. While many things can contribute to varicose veins, like obesity and having a job that requires you to sit or stand for a long period of time, the primary culprit is genetics.
If a biological parent has varicose veins, you have a 40% chance of getting them, too. And that’s if just one parent has them. If both have varicose veins, your chance jumps up to 90%.
About 15% of our patients have no known family history of varicose veins.
But don’t panic. Even if you get them, our procedures are fast and require very little downtime. And, your insurance will most likely cover the cost of the treatment!
Can I avoid dealing with varicose veins?
Varicose veins aren’t typically life-threatening (although in some cases they are). But just because they won’t kill you doesn’t mean they won’t decrease the quality of your life. Many of our patients avoid activities they once enjoyed, and avoid wearing clothing that shows their legs.
That’s no way to live.
“I actually wore shorts for the last two summers,” said former East Tennessee Vein Clinic patient M. Graves. “This vein clinic is exceptional! I had veins that looked like my 80-year-old grandmother’s and I’m in my 40s.”
Varicose veins can also cause painful symptoms like swelling, itching, and aching.
There’s nothing you can do about your genetics, but there are things you can do to prevent varicose veins from impacting your life in a negative way.
Compression stockings are your best friend
Compression stockings increase circulation and help reduce swelling. They help with pain, heaviness, and aching in your legs and are available in three degrees of compression. The level of compression as well as the correct size affects how well they will work for you, so be sure to talk to our team about which grade and size is best for you.
Take breaks from sitting or standing
Sitting or standing for extended periods of time can cause pressure in the veins of the legs over time, which can make varicose veins worse. If you have to sit or stand for hours of time, alternate positions and take a break every hour to walk around or to sit if you’ve been standing.
Take a load off and elevate your feet and legs
Elevating your feet and legs above your chest level improves circulation by allowing blood to flow more easily towards your heart. Try propping your legs and feet above heart level for 10-20 minutes, particularly at the end of the day when swelling and other varicose vein symptoms tend to be worse.
Regular physical activity like walking, biking, hiking, and swimming benefits your veins in 2 ways. First, maintaining a healthy weight lessens the pressure on your veins, and second, exercise increases blood flow and improves your circulatory health, which is important for healthy veins.
Don’t wait to start treatment
Varicose veins are a chronic and progressive disease, which means they will not get better or go away on their own. You may be able to alleviate symptoms for some time with the above steps, but if you’re noticing leg pain, swelling, aching, heaviness, or restless legs, it’s time to be proactive about getting rid of your varicose veins before symptoms become worse.
Many patients looking for varicose vein treatments remember hearing stories about how their parents or grandparents experienced painful “vein stripping” procedures. Aside from the pain and obviously much more invasive procedure, this type of surgery also had a recurrence rate of between 35-50% after 5 years.
Luckily, treatment isn’t like that anymore. Procedures have come a long way in the last few years thanks to lasers. There is little to no down-time for the procedures we perform here at East Tennessee Vein Clinic, and pain is minimal. Only local anesthetic is necessary, which means you can even drive yourself home after treatment.
The techniques we practice at East Tennessee Vein Clinic only have a 5-year recurrence rate of 8%. There is also minimal pain, bruising and scarring.
If you’re experiencing the following symptoms, it’s important to get treated quickly to prevent your varicose veins from causing pain and sometimes serious complications:
- Leg ulcers
- Severe bleeding
- Recurrent phlebitis (clotting)
- Discoloration of the skin
- Significant leg pain
Take heart in knowing that treatments of varicose veins are quicker and easier than they’ve ever been—with most procedures performed in an hour with little to know down time—and are typically covered by insurance.
Dr. Cook and the staff at East Tennessee Vein Clinic are solely dedicated to the treatment of varicose veins, and lead the region in experience and expertise of vein treatments. We treat veins differently than other clinics because of our comprehensive attention to treating the root cause and full extent of each patient’s vein disease. Comprehensive vein treatment is all we do, every day, all day, since 2001. You’ll notice a different level of care when an entire practice revolves around one thing—helping patients be free from the discomfort of varicose veins.