Varicose Veins - Treatment
Varicose (VAR-i-kos) veins are swollen, twisted veins that you can see just under the surface of the skin. These veins usually occur in the legs. However, they also can form in other parts of your body. Varicose veins are a common condition. They usually cause few signs or symptoms. In some cases, varicose veins may cause complications, such as mild to moderate pain, blood clots, or skin ulcers.
Varicose veins are treated with lifestyle changes and medical procedures. The goals of treatment are to relieve symptoms, prevent complications, and improve appearance.
The primary predisposing factor for varicose veins is heredity. Other causes of varicose veins include aging, prolonged standing, obesity, leg injury or prior deep or superficial vein thrombosis. Women are more likely than men to suffer from varicose and spider veins and have a 50 percent chance of developing them in their lifetime. Varicose veins may result from increased hormone levels, blood volume and pressure from the enlarged uterus during pregnancy. Varicose veins that develop during pregnancy generally improve without medical treatment within 3-12 months after delivery.
Varicose Vein Consultation
Whether or not you are bothered by the cosmetics of varicose veins, you should schedule a consultation to learn about all of your treatment options by a board certified and skilled vascular surgeon. Sometimes tests or procedures are done to find out the extent of the problem and to rule out other disorders.
Diagnostic Tests and Procedures
Your doctor may recommend a Doppler ultrasound to check blood flow in your veins and to look for blood clots. A Doppler ultrasound uses sound waves to create pictures of structures in your body. In this noninvasive test, a technician runs a small hand-held device (transducer), about the size of a bar of soap, against your skin over the area of your body being examined. The transducer transmits images of the veins in your legs to a monitor, so a technician and your doctor can see them.
Treatment Options for Varicose Veins
Medical procedures are done either to remove varicose veins or to close them. Removing or closing varicose veins usually doesn't cause problems with blood flow because the blood starts moving through other veins. Fortunately, treatment usually doesn't mean a hospital stay or a long, uncomfortable recovery. Thanks to less invasive procedures, varicose veins can generally be treated on an outpatient basis. Click here for pre-surgery FAQ
You may be treated with one or more of the procedures listed below.
Sclerotherapy. (SKLER-o-ther-a-pe) uses a liquid chemical to close off a varicose vein and can be done in your doctor's office without anesthesia. The chemical is injected into the vein to cause irritation and scarring inside the vein. The irritation and scarring cause the vein to close off, and it fades away. You may need several treatments to completely close off a vein. Treatments are typically done every 4 to 6 weeks. Following treatments, you will wear prescribed compression stockings to help healing and decrease swelling. In a few weeks, treated varicose veins will fade.
Catheter-assisted procedures using laser energy. With this treatment, your doctor inserts a thin tube (catheter) into an enlarged vein and heats the tip of the catheter using either radiofrequency or laser energy. As the catheter is pulled out, the heat destroys the vein by causing it to collapse and seal shut. Afterwards, you will be required to wear a compression wrap and follow up in office in a couple days.
Ambulatory phlebectomy (fluh-BEK-tuh-me). Your doctor removes smaller varicose veins through a series of tiny skin punctures. This procedure is usually done to remove the varicose veins closest to the surface of your skin. Your doctor will numb the area around the vein. Following the procedure, a compression wrap is required for a couple of days, then compression stockings for a couple weeks.
Varicose Vein Recovery
Since none of the treatment methods involve large incisions, there are no sutures to worry about. Patients may need to wear bandages and/or compression stockings for a few days following the treatment, but there is very little downtime involved. Most people are back at work within a couple of days. Though there are few activity restrictions after varicose vein procedures, your board certified vascular surgeon will give you specific instructions about how to care for yourself properly following treatment. Your physician may have short term lifting, exercise, or travel limitations based on your history and procedure(s) performed. Click here for post-surgery FAQ
Ask your doctor if insurance will cover any of the medical cost for your treatment. If done purely for cosmetic reason, the treatment may not be covered. Most insurance requires a trial of conservative management such as use of compression stockings. After this trial, if your insurance requires a prior authorization, our office staff will handle this for you. Every effort will be made to work with your insurance company to arrange your procedure as soon as possible. Allow 4-6 weeks to schedule the procedure.
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