Varicose veins are swollen and twisted veins that appear right under the skin. They affect 15 to 25% of all adults, especially people aged 50 and older, in the UAE. The condition causes pain and discomfort that can worsen. If left untreated, they can cause various complications such as venous ulcers (sores), swollen ankles and lower legs and lipodermatosclerosis which causes the skin to become reddened and tight.
Tired legs, bulging veins, ulcers and a burning sensation are just some of the symptoms associated with varicose veins. Pregnant women may also develop varicose veins because pregnancy increases the volume of blood in a woman’s body.
Symptoms are usually worse during warm weather. Burjeel Hospital’s, specialist vascular surgeon, Dr. Ashkan Haghshenas, who specialised in varicose veins said: “In hot countries such as the UAE, the veins swell and open up in order to help cool the body and prevent overheating. This swelling makes veins larger and allows more blood to pool in one place.”
A common belief is that the condition is limited to women. In reference to that, Dr. Akshan said: “While the majority of patients treated for varicose veins are women, men also suffer from venous diseases, even if they're less likely to seek treatment”.
According to Dr. Akshan, not everyone with varicose veins requires treatment. Although there are some instances when treatment may be necessary particularly to ease pain and discomfort, to reduce the risk of developing leg ulcers, swelling or skin discoloration or for aesthetic purposes.
Treatments include wearing compression stockings, taking medication or having the vein closed (ablation). There are various ablation procedures to choose from including liquid injection sclerotherapy, foam injection sclerotherapy, skin-type (topical) laser treatment and endo-venous laser treatment (EVLT), minphlebectomy may be proposed, which involves the removal of faulty veins through minute incisions.