Are Your Legs Revealing Your True Age?

We recently received a letter from a reader asking what she can do about her varicose veins:
“I was on vacation this month and when I looked down at my legs, I was horrified to see that they looked like my grandmother’s. I was shocked at how veiny they had become.”

I’m sure you grandmother passed on many wonderful things too but when it comes to DNA, we have no choice but to take the good with the bad. How did the limbs that once looked cute in a miniskirt turn into bulgy, blue-tracked road maps? If your legs are bothering you too, there is hope.

It has been a lot of years since I worked in any surgical capacity and the field has changed a lot. The best option back then was something called stripping, and I’m thrilled to say, the treatment has come a very long way. In order to give you the best information, I reached out to Dr. David Cohen, at Advanced Vascular Vein Care.

Here is what I learned:
Varicose veins are veins under the skin which enlarge and bulge. They are caused by leakage in the vein’s valves. Dr. Cohen explains, “These valves should be one-way valves, allowing blood to flow only upwards toward the heart. When the valves leak, gravity pulls the blood downwards and causes varicose veins.”

Risk factors include:
previous, especially multiple pregnancies (of course!)
family history (thanks Gram!)
jobs that requires standing for long periods of time.

The symptoms are not only cosmetic. Varicose veins can cause leg pain, heaviness, and swelling in addition to the skin discoloration and damage. Varicose veins can also cause itching, restless legs and night cramps.

I asked Dr. Cohen about potential health complications in addition to the pain and discomfort. He replied, “While they are not typically dangerous, there can be serious complications such as clotting and phlebitis (inflammation of a vein), vein rupture and bleeding as well as severe skin damage resulting in ulceration.”

There is good news though. Because the problem is usually restricted to superficial skin veins, which are not really needed for optimal cardiovascular health, they are easily treated with injection treatments known as sclerotherapy. The treatment involves the injection of a “sclerosing” (hardening) solution into the affected vein that causes it to seal shut and eventually fade away. The injections are administered in the office, using a very fine needle. Anesthesia is not needed and you can return to normal activities immediately following the procedure. Veins typically begin to fade from view within a few weeks. Most patients have multiple spider veins and benefit from a series of treatments.

If you are a mother, and since you’ve read this far and are concerned about varicose veins there is a very good chance you are, you spend countless hours and energy on the health, well-being and even appearance of your children. Don’t wait until symptoms are unbearable. Make an appointment soon, and be sure to see someone who specializes in vein treatment to ensure you get the best and most up to date treatment.

If you’d like to learn more about Dr. Cohen and his colleagues at Advanced Vascular Vein Care, check out the website. You can still rock the mini! Or at the very least, you can get a pedicure without embarrassment.

Dr. Cohen’s before and after shots.


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Author: Karen Latimer

Dr. Latimer is a Family Physician and Wellness & Parenting Coach. She works with parents who want to feel more confident when helping their children and coaches young adults to help them better navigate college life and transitions. Contact her at to learn more. She is the author of two Audible Originals, Take Back the House -- Raising Happy Parents and Worry Less, Parent Better. She is also the co-founder of the app that makes your life easier and puts social in a healthier place -- List'm.