What is a vein?
They are blood vessels that carry blood back towards the heart, after the oxygen carried in the blood stream through arteries has been depleted. The blood vessel walls are thinner than arteries and the passage is wider, with lower pressure.
The heart pumps blood through all of the body’s blood vessels, and without a proper supply flesh cells can start to die off.
What are vertical veins?
Vertical veins can refer to either varicose or spider veins, which occur on the leg. Varicose bulges show as thick, ropey protrusions from your leg, and can be painful, while spidering shows as a blueish network of blood vessels close to the skin.
Is vertical veins removal purely cosmetic?
If you have vertical veins, their removal can have more than just cosmetic benefits. Both varicose and spidering issues can both result in severe blood loss (possibly to the point of death) if you get a cut on the back of your leg, so removal dramatically reduces this risk. A varicose issue can also allow blood clots to build up or cause ulceration.
Removing the problem will also prevent pain in your legs. The bulging of the blood vessels can be extremely painful and cause cramping, especially at night, as well as itching and sensations of heat. Spidering can also cause discomfort. Removal will thus serve quite a large medical benefit, in addition to cosmetic appeal.
Of course the removal also serves a cosmetic purpose. People can feel self-conscious about both spidering and varicose legs, especially when they wear swimmers.
What causes them?
The risk factors for this issue are pregnancy, genetics, sitting still too much, standing still too much, a generally sedentary lifestyle, being overweight, wearing high heels or tight pants and aging. Virtually everyone appears to be at risk, especially when many of these factors affect the same person.
These risk factors can weaken the valves and walls of the blood vessels. When the valves are weakened, blood is not pumped back towards the heart as strongly and can start to pool, causing varicose bulges. When blood vessel walls are weakened the pressure from blood flow can also cause them to bulge out.
Diseases such as phlebitis (blood vessel inflammation), clotting disorders and congenital abnormalities can also contribute to vertical veins.
About 15% of older men and the majority of women past childbearing age suffer from vertical veins. This common issue is relatively easy to resolve, and measures can be taken to prevent you from getting them in the first place.
How are they treated?
Typically vertical veins removal is done through surgery, especially for the varicose variety, although there are other options such as laser treatment. This will involve an ultrasound to work out where the problem starts, and correction with lasers. The laser treatment will also require massages, ointments and gels.
Is the treatment painful?
If you have your vertical veins removal done via surgery you will need to go to a hospital, and the operation will be done under general anaesthetic. The laser option will often be done through an appointment at a clinic, and it will be painless. You will also need to rub ointments and gels into your legs, but this will not hurt either.
What do I need to do afterwards?
After each option you will need to have compression bandages around your legs for about 3 days, to ensure the bulging does not return. You will then need to exercise regularly and wear hosiery if possible to try and maintain a normal blood flow. If you simply resume your life the way it was, the vertical veins will return.
Nancy Vasser has over 15 years experience as a educator and health practitioner. She has a B.S. from Brock, and a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Guelph . Nancy has worked as a special medical consultant for a major insurance provider before becoming a freelance health author and public speaker.