The human body includes a vast network of arteries and veins that carry blood from the heart throughout the body and return it back to the source, respectively. This essential function helps to sustain bodily tissues by ensuring that cells get the oxygen and nutrients needed to survive.
Like every other part of the human body, however, this intricate web of blood transport can become damaged. The veins in your legs have a particularly difficult task – as they carry blood back to the heart for recirculation, they have to fight gravity.
While there are mechanisms in place to ensure that blood circulates properly, a number of conditions could contribute to weakness in arteries that results in bulging. This condition is recognized as varicose veins and it is characterized by ropy, bulging veins that are dark blue or purple and stand out on the skin of the legs.
The condition is not merely unsightly – it can also be uncomfortable, causing swelling, itchiness, burning, aches, and pains, among other symptoms. For patients who suffer from varicose veins, there are several treatment options. The question is: are they covered by health insurance?
Causes of Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are often a hereditary condition. However, there are a number of contributing factors that could lead to the appearance of varicose veins.
If the condition runs in your family, it is very likely that you will start to see the appearance of varicose veins as you age. This is due to either a loss of elasticity in the veins that causes them to stretch and/or weakened valves that allow blood to flow backward and collect in veins when it should be pushed along toward the heart.
Increased blood volume could also be a contributing factor, which is why pregnant women sometimes develop varicose veins. A sedentary lifestyle that involves extended periods of standing or sitting with little or no movement could also play a role since it impairs circulation.
The point is that varicose veins are more than just a cosmetic issue. The condition is a medically recognized health problem.
There are several treatment options for varicose veins. In some cases, self-treatment is an option and it involves exercise and the use of compression stockings to reduce symptoms and prevent further complications, although it cannot reverse the damage that has already been done.
In the past, a painful treatment called vein stripping was considered the best method of removing varicose veins. These days there are more advanced (and less painful) treatment options. Localized radio waves can be used to shrink the collagen in veins so that they collapse and reabsorb back into the leg.
Lasers can also be used to collapse veins. However, the most popular treatment is sclerotherapy, which involves pumping emulsifying foam into the vein to cause it to collapse. Local anesthetics are used to make the procedure painless and, once veins collapse, the deeper venous system in the legs takes over blood flow.
While issues like spider veins are considered a cosmetic concern and are therefore generally not covered by insurance, varicose veins are another story. This condition is categorized as venous insufficiency and, when patients suffer problems like discomfort and swelling, treatment is covered by the vast majority of health insurance providers.