What are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are large “rope-like” veins which are often 1/4 inch or larger in diameter. They generally grow in size over time and can result in substantial pain and complications if not treated.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are caused by unhealthy or weakened valves inside the veins. When valves become weak, blood can collect in your legs, building up pressure which causes the veins to become large and twisted. Varicose veins often appear through the skin on a person’s legs as blue, bulging and twisted veins; in some cases, the veins may be raised or stand out on the surface of the skin. Varicose veins are primarily hereditary although pregnant women and those with occupations that require long periods of standing are also at risk.
What are the Symptoms of Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins can usually be seen by looking at the size and color of the vein at the skin surface. However, in some cases, the diseased vein may be deeper in the body and not visible through the skin. Therefore, it’s important to pay close attention to symptoms such as cramping, aching, burning, itching, soreness and tired or restless legs, especially in the calf muscles. These symptoms can worsen over time leading to swollen ankles, skin discoloration and ulceration.
What Treatment Options are Available for Varicose Veins?
Although they will not eliminate varicose veins, compression stockings can help relieve vein disease symptoms. The compressions stocking will assist the leg in the pumping of blood back to the heart.
is commonly used for small varicose veins and spider veins. Sclerotherapy involves injecting a small volume of liquid into the diseased vein. The sclerosis liquid acts upon the lining of the vein to cause it to seal shut, eliminating the vein. Sclerotherapy is a brief procedure, requiring no anesthesia.
Endovenous Laser Therapy (Ablation)
During Endovenous Laser Therapy, a thin laser fiber is inserted into the diseased vein, generally through a small puncture in the leg above where the visual symptoms appear. The physician then delivers laser energy through the fiber which causes the vein to close as the fiber is gradually removed. Endovenous Laser Therapy can be performed in a physician’s office in less than one hour, and the patient is encouraged to walk immediately following the procedure.
Radiofrequency (RF) Therapy
is a minimally invasive alternative to traditional vein stripping. It’s performed by inserting a tiny tube called a catheter into the vein and delivering RF energy to the vein wall. This causes the vein to shrink, collapse and seal shut. Once it is sealed, healthy veins take over and redirect blood flow back toward the heart. The RF procedure can be performed under local anesthesia in a physician’s office, and most patients return to normal activity within a day.
Did You Know?
- The loss of the diseased vein is not a problem for the circulatory system. After the procedure, the blood that previously flowed through the closed vein flows through other healthy veins after the procedure.
- Untreated varicose veins generally worsen over time. What began with slight pain and restlessness in the diseased leg, can increase resulting in cramps while sleeping and limitations in movement when walking. In extreme cases, varicose veins can lead to open sores, blood clots, and tissue loss.
- Many insurance companies will cover the treatment of varicose veins that cause substantial pain and other complications. However, individual insurance companies may limit the types of therapy that are covered.