We women can be hard enough on ourselves about body image, and if there’s one thing that can really make us feel self-conscious, it’s showing off our legs – which is hard not to want to do while living in the tropics! While cellulite can be kept in check with a healthy diet and by signing up for a few more bootcamp sessions, there are certain factors that are out of our control – one of those being the appearance of bulging or prominent veins. Known as varicose veins (the larger, raised, swollen blood vessels) or spider veins (the thinner, threadlike variety), they don’t just make our pins look unsightly, they can cause health complications down the road, too. Our beauty editor had a chat with one of Singapore’s top vein authorities – Dr John Tan from The Vein Clinic – about how best to deal with the blighters.
So, Dr Tan, what’s causing varicose or spider veins?
There are three main factors that may make you more prone to vein abnormalities:
If your parents have varicose veins, you may be more prone to developing them yourself.
The surge in your hormones during pregnancy can be a contributing factor to developing vein abnormalities. While you’re pregnant, the amount of blood in your system increases by up to 40 percent, exerting additional stress on the veins in your legs.
It’s a fact that people who stand a lot at work – like hawkers or retail staff – have a greater tendency to get varicose veins.
When is a case serious enough to consider treatment?
To be honest, most people think it’s just a cosmetic issue, and won’t seek treatment unless they develop significant complications, like bleeding or leg ulcerations. Here are the key reasons why I think they should be treated rather than tolerated.
It’s a progressive problem that won’t go away. No amount of cream or medication can cure vein issues. Elevating your legs while lying down will relieve the symptoms and slow the progression, but it’s not a cure.
Varicose veins or spider veins can cause a lot of discomfort and achiness. Your legs may tire easily, and they can suffer from calf cramps at night, which painkillers can’t relieve. Treatment will give you instant relief.
They can cause health complications. If your case is complicated by bleeding or infection, you should definitely seek treatment early because it’s likely to reoccur. If you’ve developed ankle ulcers from varicose veins, the only way of healing them is through medical treatment.
You can feel confident showing off your legs again. Ladies who have varicose veins are often very conscious of the marks on their legs. They don’t want to wear skirts or shorts, and stay away from sports like tennis and running.
Insurance should cover your treatment. Varicose veins is a medical condition and should be covered by your health insurance if you have it!
So, what treatment options are out there?
For spider veins, we use a technique called injection sclerotherapy – we can clear more than 90 percent of spider veins in less than an hour, and without anaesthetic. Soon after, they will disappear.
For larger varicose veins, there are a few options: Endovenous Laser Treatment; Endovenous Radiofrequency closure (Venefit); Clarivein; and Venaseal. We insert a small calibre wire that delivers energy (either laser or RF) into the vein to ablate and close it up. This is minimally invasive, and can be performed under local anaesthesia – plus, it won’t leave any scars. We always do a detailed ultrasound examination first to assess which option will have the best outcome for you.
Aside from treatments, how can we prevent vein issues from reoccurring?
Once they appeared, they’re not always possible to prevent again, but here are some simple lifestyle changes you can make:
#1 Exercise regularly to improve circulation and strengthen veins. Focus on exercises that work your legs, like walking or running.
#2 Watch your weight and eat a well-balanced diet. Being overweight puts a lot of pressure on your legs, and is known to cause spider veins.
#3 Don’t cross your legs while sitting!
#4 Elevate your legs with a pillow while resting or sleeping (your ankle should be above the level of your heart).
#5 Try not to sit or stand for very long periods of time. If you have to be upright for a long while, shift your weight from one leg to the other and do tip-toeing exercises every so often.
Brought to you by The Vein Clinic
290 Orchard Road, 238895
6245 6666 | theveinclinic.com.sg
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