Varicose veins more than unsightly marks on legs

While many brush it aside or believe they have none, the issue on varicose veins goes beyond the appearance of unsightly web-like teeny-weeny pink-bluish to bulging harlequin-coloured marks on the thighs, legs and feet of both men and women.

“Many have the condition for 10, 20, 30 years which has built up through these years and have no idea they have it because these have not been or are not visible but then proper ultrasound and tests would (demonstrate) they already have been suffering from varicose veins,” vascular specialist Dr. Ashkan Haghshenas told The Gulf Today.

“Varicose veins are not a cosmetic issue but can be a serious medical concern,” he pointed out, adding that through global studies and specifically through his 18 years of sub-specialisation on the conditions arising from arteries and veins “outside of the heart” and their treatments, signs and symptoms which may be ignored are the inability to walk, stand or sit for long hours.

“If we are then unable to walk, stand or sit for long hours, how then can we do our jobs well (or even indulge in activities) and live productively,” Haghshenas went on to say, claiming it is about time that everyone must be made aware of the downside of varicose veins even as their awful appearance surely affects one’s emotional state and social life.

On the emotional state and social life, he expressed caution on women who usually wear high heels: “Wearing high heels should not be painful. But, if it becomes painful, this is also a sign that she is suffering from varicose veins even if there were no visible varicose veins.”

Haghshenas then explained: “Wearing high heels will stop the feet from moving or from flexing and this will stop the calfs from pumping and (therefore) add more pressure on the veins of the lower legs resulting in varicose veins.

“Wearing flats will allow the calfs to function well for additional pump on the veins of the lower legs.”

Enumerating the other signs and symptoms of varicose veins as heaviness in the legs, cramps or needles and pins at night, swollen legs and feet as well as indention of the lower legs when pinched, Haghshenas also said that the worst conditions he had encountered among his patients are leg ulcers and wounds that have taken too long to heal.

“The patient had been on anti-biotics for more than a year because her deep wounds (had remained un-healed) and you could just imagine the effect of those medicines on her kidneys, liver and stomach,” he shared, adding the patient had other health concerns.

Haghshenas, affiliated with the Burjeel Hospital (for Advanced Surgery) in Dubai, said varicose veins problems are genetics-rooted and “not chromosomal in nature” making both men and women susceptible.

However, women are more prone, particularly from their reproductive age (adolescence to 30 years old) due to pregnancy at which the weight of foetus bears down on the veins on the stomach and lower limbs of the expectant mothers.

While the worst varicose veins concerns may lead to surgery, Haghshenas said conservative treatments are options such as proper guidance to lifestyle changes that include weight loss, appropriate physical activities or exercises namely swimming (which relaxes the veins the most), rowing, and bicycling, and the proper ways to stand, sit and sleep.

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