Marla Ahlgrimm: Varicose Veins

Marla AhlgrimmAccording to Marla Ahlgrimm, approximately 23 percent — roughly one in four adults — are affected by varicose veins. The majority of these are women.

Varicose veins are enlarged and swollen veins that usually occur on the feet and legs. They may be twisting or bulging and are sometimes lumpy. Varicose veins are often blue or dark purple in appearance, and are caused by interior valves that are weakened or damaged, Marla Ahlgrimm explains. These damaged valves fail to prevent blood from flowing backwards. This results in blood pooling in the vein, which causes it to become enlarged and swollen.

Some signs and symptoms may include:

  • heavy aching legs
  • swollen ankles and feet
  • throbbing or burning in the legs
  • leg cramping at night or when suddenly standing up
  • spider veins
  • shiny discolored skin near the site
  • restless leg syndrome
  • dry, itchy skin over the affected area

Symptoms are usually worse if you have been standing for extended periods of time and during warm weather, notes Marla Ahlgrimm.

Certain conditions may increase your changes for varicose veins, such as:

  • Pregnancy
  • being overweight
  • having a job that requires standing for several hours each day
  • being older
  • being female
  • having a close relative with varicose veins

Varicose veins rarely have complications and therefore do not require treatment unless there is considerable discomfort. However, Marla Ahlgrimm notes that, in more severe cases, these veins may rupture or develop into ulcers under the skin. Other potential complications include bleeding, chronic venous insufficiency, and thrombophlebitis.  Marla Ahlgrimm stresses that you should consult with your healthcare provider if you are concerned about varicose veins. If treatment is needed, your physician may recommend regular exercise, elevating the feet or legs when resting, wearing compression socks, or a combination of the above.

If surgery is required for large veins, it is usually done under general anesthesia. If surgery is needed on both legs, the patient may need to spend the night in the hospital, but in most cases, they are able to go home the same day.

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