Varicose veins are a frequent problem, particularly for women. They are veins that you can see under the skin and could be blue, purple, or red. They often bulge out as they worsen, forming twisting, protruding pathways along your legs. They can become severe enough to cause chronic discomfort in your legs. Large veins can be itchy and make your legs feel heavy and tired.
For many people, varicose veins are simply a cosmetic concern.
What causes varicose veins?
These troublesome veins develop when the valves that control blood flow in your veins stop doing their job properly. The valves are meant to keep blood flowing up your legs toward your heart while stopping any blood from going in the wrong direction — back down your legs.
If the valves are not functioning as they should, your blood can trickle back down and pool in the veins, making them swell and become varicose veins.
What are the symptoms of varicose veins?
Some varicose veins are big and unsightly. They usually grow bigger if you stay on your feet for a long time. They can cause heaviness and an aching pain typically at the end of the day after prolonged standing.
When varicose veins go untreated, they increase your risk for complications such as deep vein thrombosis, skin conditions, and leg wounds.
How are varicose veins diagnosed?
A thorough history and physical exam is important as these veins are often a manifestation of a deeper problem that might need to be addressed first. A special ultrasound is necessary to check the veins for any blood clots and to evaluate the valves for any leakage or “reflux”.
How are varicose veins treated?
We recommend starting with conservative measures at first. These include wearing compression stockings, which are special stretchy socks that prevent the blood from pooling in the legs. Exercise and weight loss can help significantly. We also recommend taking multiple breaks throughout the day and propping the legs up to help drain the blood from the legs.
If these measures are unsuccessful, then there are multiple interventions that are designed to eliminate unsightly veins by making the vein walls collapse and turn into scar tissue.
These treatments include:
A special medication is directly injected into enlarged varicose veins and causes then to scar from the inside
- Endovenous ablation
During this procedure, we access one of the long veins in the leg with a tiny nick. We then insert a catheter and use real-time ultrasound imaging to guide it to the end of the varicose vein. We then slowly withdraw the catheter while sending out radiofrequency or laser energy. Both techniques produce heat that “ablates” or seals the vein.
This procedure is similar to endovenous ablation but instead of using heat energy, it is a non-thermal treatment that seals the vein walls with a small amount of medical adhesive.
Our providers have an excellent experience in managing patients with varicose veins. They start by identifying the root of the problem, and then they determine what the best treatment approach is. If a procedure is needed, it can be at our office in less than an hour.