Have you got reddish or blue-purplish swollen twisted veins that look like cords showing through the skin under your eyes or on your thighs, calves and ankles? Do you like the look of it? Or are you worried it could be a symptom of something bigger or a sign of early ageing?
Statistics indicate that 50% of adults have some level of venous insufficiency which results in symptoms such as tired, achy legs; and some vessel activity such as spider or reticular veins and varicose veins. In other words, one in every two of us are likely to find vascular veins on some part of our body, but the prominence level will differ. If yours is so obvious that you’re concealing your under eye area, covering your lean legs with pants, or getting comments about the unsightly veins, then maybe you should do something to fix it, before it begins to limit your daily routine even more.
CAN YOU GIVE A CRASH COURSE ON THE CAUSE OF VARICOSE VEINS?
Sure! Veins or the freeways of our blood circulation system have valves inside that act to ensure that blood does not go in the wrong direction, which is away from the large veins and the heart. So, once the blood goes up, the valve has to close to stop the blood back flow. If you have insufficient or weak valves, the blood may flow backwards, causing poor venous circulation which leads to varicose veins or pooling of the blood.
The condition is likely inherited and tied to family genetics. So if varicose veins are in your family, you’re quite prone to it too. Standing for long periods of time is also a common cause of blood stagnation making the legs heavy, tired and achy. Spider veins also appear during pregnancy but usually resolve after delivery as the circulating blood volume in the lower extremities decreases.
ON WHAT PARTS OF THE BODY DO THEY COMMONLY APPEAR?
On the face, these are commonly seen under the eyes and the nose area. Around the eyes, it happens when there’s a stagnation of the blood vessels, resulting in swollen puffy eyes. As for the nose, the condition is referred to as rosacea or red spider, because of the angry, inflamed red flush you get on the face. Sometimes, rosacea also produces small pus-filled bumps on the face.
On the body, it’s most common on the legs if we sit or stand without much movement frequently. When you age, these can also appear anywhere on the trunk in the form of cherry-like spots, also referred to as cherry angioma. Cherry angioma usually comes from sun exposure or accumulation of white blood cells in the skin.
HOW CAN THEY BE TREATED?
The dark circle around the eyes can be treated with the long pulse YAG laser, as it targets the blood vessels causing them to contract and shrink. Treatment is quick and you’ll see results each time, but to get overall improvement you’ll need to indulge in the procedure about the three to five times.
For the nose, we can use the same device or the V-beam laser which also does a good job. The V-beam laser is a pulsed dye laser that targets not just the visible blood vessels of rosacea but also the tiny dilated vessels that cause the redness and flushing. Even this needs to be done three to five times for results.
Lasers can be used to get rid of lesions from cherry angioma too. After laser treatment, the spots usually become less red immediately, and may form a small crust or scab which falls away after a few days. For the large ones we can just burn them off and for the smaller ones, we can use either long pulse YAG or V-beam.
In terms of leg veins, sclerotherapy is usually suitable. This involves salt solution being injected through a very fine needle directly into the vein. You may experience mild discomfort for a couple of minutes, especially when larger veins are injected. This procedure takes roughly 15 to 30 minutes and the number of veins injected in one session varies, depending on the size and location of the veins.
CAN THESE BE A HEALTH THREAT OR ARE THEY JUST UNATTRACTIVE?
The one on the face is not dangerous, it’s just unpleasant. On the body, the varicose veins themselves are not harmful, but the cause of it _ poor circulation _ can lead to rashes along the area which can be quite itchy, and eventually, can result in a non-healing ulcer.
It’s best to prevent the condition by protecting your skin from the sun with sunscreen, and exercising regularly to improve vein strength and blood circulation. You should also avoid sitting with your legs crossed and try to elevate you legs while resting.