It’s not the most fashionable topic, but with the season of bare legs upon us, it’s time to talk about veins. The ugly kind.
First up, varicose veins: I’m talking about the icky ones that form when the valves in the leg veins stop functioning properly, blood gets stuck there, and they start to protrude. (Shiver.) They’re caused by heredity and/or lifestyle factors, such as getting pregnant, being overweight or even being super-active. (You can’t win, can you.)
I decided to pump Dr. Mark Adelman, Associate Professor of Surgery at NYU, for advice on how to deal with these bumpy veins.
“First of all, varicose veins are not just a cosmetic issue,” he says. “Left untreated, they can cause bigger problems.” He describes a vein disease called chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) that’s hideously painful and horrible to look at.
His advice: Treat varicose veins like a toothache.
“If your tooth is bothering you, you don’t ignore it. You know it’s only going to get worse, so you get it fixed. Treat your veins the same way.” He suggests making an appointment with your general internist, who can refer you to a vascular surgeon if necessary—he or she is the best person to diagnose whether or not you could benefit from endovenous ablation, a minimally invasive, in-office procedure that seals the bad veins off. That can cost between a few hundred dollars (for those few rogue veins) to $2,500 (if your whole main venous trunk needs to be sorted out). The best part? Most medical insurance covers it!
Adelman also debunked the myth that high heels promote varicose veins. “It’s gravity that makes varicose veins worse—not the position of your foot.” Propping your feet up on a stool at work won’t help either: Your feet have to be higher than your heart in order to really do any good.
And as for getting rid of those spider veins (the small visible veins on the surface of the skin) Adelman gives you two options. One, see a vascular surgeon or dermatologist for injections, who can quickly get rid of them. “The injections really don’t hurt too much,” he says. They cost between $5 and $20 per injection, and each visit might involve about 50 to 70 of them. Shop around by asking different docs what they charge per injection, how many they do per session, and how many sessions you’ll likely need.
For a quicker, if less permanent fix, he suggests concealer. His favorite: Shiseido The Makeup Corrector Pencil. “Patients love it.”
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