Without starting this blog out reviewing high school biology, I just need to say that the veins in your body return blood back to the heart. This seems like a fairly important job. Of course there are different types of viens, but I want to get to my varicose veins and why there is medical cause to have them repaired. I have included a great video on the anatomy of the veins in which you want to learn a little more (click here to see it).
What I find facinsating about veins, is how the body handles re-routing blood without major consequences to the heart when the vein’s valves stop functioning. Are you wondering why I would even ponder this question? I have alot of collasped valves in my legs. Here is how I found out.
Like over 25 million of Americans, I appreantly have symptomatic venous insufficiency. Big words for the underlying cause of my silly varicose veins (and other venous diseases). I was really surprised to learn that the veins in my legs, which I thought would require a cosmetic procedure (and therefore all out of pocket), were actually one symptom of other things happening in my body.
I was fortunate to meet Dr. Giancarlo Piano (312-929-4265), a Vascular Surgeon here in downtown Chicago who educated me on varicose veins and why I didn’t have to wait until I saved up for the cosmetic procedure. Turns out that although things like pregnancy do bring these conditions on, it is most likely a trauma I incurred from kickboxing that potentially lead to the varicose veins in the first place. Although I was not happy with the veins that surfaced with my last pregnancy, I set it aside in my mind that I would get it fixed one day, and it was no big deal. But I was wrong.
Dr. Piano (312-929-4265) sent me for an ultrasound after he saw the veins, considered the nature of the sport I was in for 30 years and the fact that I get leg cramps and occasional swelling (which I ignored as a common bi-product of letting people kick me). The ultrasound was fascinating. The tech actually mapped out the entire venous structure of my leg; looking at all the valves and paths of blood pumping through the leg. So at the end of this non-evasive test, I ended up with an actual road map of my veins. I thought that was fairly cool. It reminded of looking at a map of streams and rivers. Continuing with this analogy, the valves are like the dams. When the dams are blocked or fail to function, water must re-route, this sometimes causes flooding or a complete imbalance of water to all connected areas. The same thing happens when the valves that pump blood back to the heart collapse. And there lies my leading qustion - how does the body handle re-routing blood to the heart without major consequences of the vein’s valves stop functioning?
So it turns out that all the valves on the inside on my leg are collapsed and the blood is all being re- routed. Although this is not life threatening for me, if I ignored it, it could lead to more serious conditions like bleeding, thrombosis and ulcerations. But the truth is, that the veins can handle the re-directed work load. It is helpful that I am healthy, I don't smoke, I am not over weight and I don't have a history of this in my family. So the veins with working valves in my legs work a little harder and get the blood back to my heart even if entire pathways are shut down. Like traffic, like waterways, like rivers and dams, they simply re-route and it make their way to their final destination. Gratefully the other factors I mentioned do not cause me further serious problems.
So here I am with these collapsed valves. And I am taking the steps necessary to have this fixed. Of course everyone’s case differs slightly, but the best thing it that this is a medical procedure, not cosmetic. I do not have to save up to have it fixed and it is probably better that I didn’t go to a cosmetic vein clinic to get them zapped, but rather discovered the cause of the varicose veins.
To give you a little guidance on whether you should have a Vascular Surgeon look at your legs here is a list of the most common groups of people that are at risk. I have also included some links and symptoms for you to become familiar with. Otherwise, feel free to contact my doctor he is personable and good at his job - Dr. Giancarlo Piano (312-929-4265).
Some common symptoms of venous insufficiency are:
- Varicose veins
- Burning or itching of the skin
- Color and texture change of the skin
- Aching, tired or weak legs, especially after long periods of standing or sitting
- Swollen legs and / or ankles (edema)
- Poorly healing wounds, such as skin ulcers on the legs
If you are in a sport where trauma to the legs is common like:
football, softball, hockey, kickboxing , marathon running….
If you are in a profession where you stand all the time like :
manufacturing, nursing, retail, law enforcement on foot…