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Vein Killers

By Nancy Davis

Want sexy legs this season? Say goodbye to vexing veins forever.

Unsightly veins can affect anyone but if your mom has got 'em, you stand on your feet all day or you're just a little overweight, chances are you may get them too - if you don't have them already. Venous disease is usually hereditary, but you can sometimes acquire them through injury. And while even young children can get a blue vein or two, it's us women over 30 that are most at risk, says Lynn Moya, a registered nurse and manager of the Yorkville Vein Clinic in Toronto. That's because the problem is often precipitated by pregnancy or menopausal hormones, prolonged periods of standing, obesity and the natural aging process.

The veinous system
Overview Veins take blood to the heart through a series of small valves. We have three venous systems: the deep system, responsible for 90 per cent of blood return; the superficial system, responsible for 10 per cent; and the communicating system, which connects the deep and superficial systems. Varicose veins occur in the superficial system when the valves lose elasticity or break down allowing the blood to flow back down the leg.

Types of veins
Varicose veins: raised, bluish, sometimes painful and most common in legs
Spider veins: red, thread-like capillaries that cause itching, burning or aching, most common in legs
Reticular veins: medium-sized, turquoise, they don't bulge, common in legs

Follow these tips from Moya:
o Maintain an ideal weight for your height, body structure and age
o Avoid standing for long periods
o Wear comfortable shoes or support stockings
o Limit sun and heat exposure - warm temperatures will dilate blood vessels
o Exercise regularly
o Eat healthy meals
o Avoid tight clothing over veins

Every patient is unique, says Dr. A. Malik, a surgeon at the Peel Laser & Vein Vascular Centre in Brampton, Ont. If you are going to a new doctor for your treatment, make sure your practitioner asks for your complete history. An assessment may include a duplex ultrasound or a venogram - a procedure that uses an X-ray machine to look at your veins. Once the doctor has assessed your situation, he'll be able to make a recommendation for the most appropriate procedure.

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