Varicose veins range from very small (spider veins) to large, tortuous veins that cause burning, swelling and leg pain. Although most common in the legs, they can occur anywhere in the body. Most vein treatment in today’s world is done on an outpatient basis, but treatment varies according to a number of different factors. Here’s what you need to know about vein care and vein treatment, courtesy of Dr. Ken Stevens at Premier Heart and Vein Care.
Varicose Vein Basics
A varicose vein occurs when the tiny tissue flaps called valves to stop doing their jobs. As a result, blood can flow backward and pool in the vein. As the vein becomes distended, it starts to twist and bulge from the increased pressure. You can get a varicose vein anywhere in the body, including inside in places like the esophagus, where they are called esophageal varices. The distended veins are unsightly and can make your legs burn, itch, swell or hurt. In severe cases, you can actually develop leg ulcers from the damaged veins. Very small varicose veins, called spider veins, may occur in places like the face, chest, legs or ankles. Many varicose veins can be diagnosed with a physical examination, but an ultrasound may also be used for confirmation.
Varicose Vein Treatment – Conservative
Self-care and compression stockings are the most common conservative recommendations for varicose veins. Varicose veins often accompany obesity, so losing weight may help. The vein won’t go away, but it may get smaller and you’ll have fewer symptoms. It may also prevent you from developing more varicose veins. Other strategies – regular exercise to improve circulation, not wearing tight clothes and not spending long hours on your feet – may also be helpful. Specially fitted compression stockings are another self-care strategy.
Varicose Vein Treatment – Interventions
For more severe problems or if conservative strategies don’t help, there are office-based procedures available. Some treatments are outpatient surgeries. Among the possibilities are:
Sclerotherapy – an irritant solution is injected into the vein, which collapses and scars closed. Used for spider veins.
Foam sclerotherapy – similar to the above but foam is injected into larger varicose veins.
Laser surgery – lasers can make the vein swell, collapse and scar closed.
Radiofrequency treatment – a special catheter is inserted into the vein, the radiofrequency energy irritates the vein and it scars closed.
Litigation and vein stripping – a minor surgical procedure; the vein is tied off high in the leg and pulled out from the bottom.
Ambulatory phlebectomy – similar to a vein stripping, but the vein is removed in smaller sections.
Endoscopic vein surgery – surgery to remove the vein with a special instrument inserted into the vein.
The best treatment for a varicose vein depends on many things – your age, your physical condition, your symptoms, and the size and location of the vein. Dr. Stevens can asses your situation and make a recommendation that works best for you. Please contact our office for more information or to schedule an appointment.