What Are Varicose Veins?
Many people assume that varicose veins are merely an unsightly issue that gives rise to just a cosmetic concern.
Varicose veins are not only unsightly, they may cause unpleasant symptoms including:
- discomfort in the legs
Varicose Veins Are Not Always Visible To The Eye
Varicose veins do not always present under the skin's surface, as they may occur much deeper in the body.
These hidden varicose veins may cause further complications when they do not know they have vein disease. Therefore, it is vital to have a simple ultrasound performed by a qualified vein doctor.
What Are the Symptoms of Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are not just unpleasant in appearance. They may also bring several physical symptoms that range in severity and discomfort.
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms below:
Pain, cramping, swelling, throbbing, fatigue, itching, burning, and restlessness in your legs; a skilled vascular surgeon can help diagnose your symptoms and uncover the underlying issue before it progresses.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
Veins are responsible for efficiently moving blood through the body and back to the heart. The leg veins, in particular, work hard against the pressure of gravity to move blood upward. As a result, these veins have a unique one-way valve. These valves push your blood in one direction, preventing blood from flowing backward.
Should these valves become damaged or weakened, or if the walls of the vein become stretched, the weakened valves allow blood to leak backward, allowing it to pool in the veins and causing the vein to swell.
What Are the Risk Factors Associated with Varicose Veins?
Women are at a higher risk of developing varicose veins due to pregnancy and changes in hormone levels.
Additional risk factors include:
- Being over the age of 50
- Standing or sitting for prolonged periods
- Family history of varicose veins or vein disease
How Are Varicose Veins Diagnosed?
Should you be experiencing any pain or discomfort, it is essential to consult a vein doctor. A healthcare provider trained in vein disease can perform a physical examination and discuss your symptoms and any potential risk factors.
Your doctor will perform diagnostic tests that are fast, easy, and painless. In conjunction with imaging, a vascular specialist will be able to pinpoint the underlying cause of your symptoms and begin appropriate treatment.
Vascular Ultrasound/ Duplex Ultrasound Scan
A duplex ultrasound tests the speed of blood flow in your arteries and veins and helps detect the location and severity of vein disease.
Non-invasive and painless, this procedure takes anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes. First, a technician will apply a warm gel on your skin and press a hand-held device called a transducer or small microphone against the skin. The transducer uses sound waves to produce a sharp, two-dimensional picture of blood flow for your doctor to review.
How Are Varicose Veins Treated?
Several lifestyle changes may improve your discomfort and prevent varicose veins from worsening. Keep in mind, while these steps might help to alleviate symptoms, they are not a cure for varicose veins.
Common Preventative Steps
- Maintaining a healthy weight and diet
- Elevating the legs
- Avoid standing or sitting for prolonged periods
- Use of compression stockings
Is Treatment for Varicose Veins Painful?
Varicose veins are more easily treated now than in the past. In addition, newer advanced technology allows for limited downtime, minimal pain or discomfort, and significantly reduced recovery periods. Many people can return to their normal activities immediately following treatment or after just a few short days of rest.
Types of Technology Used to Treat Varicose Veins
The ClosureFast® procedure uses controlled and consistent heat to close a diseased vein.
The ClosureFast® procedure is an outpatient-based treatment. Using ultrasound, your doctor will position the catheter directly into the diseased vein through a small incision in the skin. Once positioned, the small catheter will deliver heat to the vein wall, causing the wall to shrink, collapse, and the vein to seal closed. Once the diseased vein is sealed shut, blood flow will naturally reroute to nearby, healthy veins. A simple bandage covers the insertion site, and additional compression may aid healing. Most people report returning to their normal activities within a few days.
VenaSeal® uses an advanced injectable adhesive to effectively and safely close a diseased vein segment. It treats the underlying cause of varicose veins and reroutes blood flow to nearby healthy veins, restoring blood flow and relieving symptoms.
Before the procedure, a local numbing medication is applied. Once the vein area is numb, the VenaSeal® adhesive is inserted through a small catheter into the vein. Pressure is applied to the leg to help seal the vein. The catheter is removed from the vein, and a small bandage is applied to cover the wound. There is no requirement for anesthesia. In addition, there is no risk of thermal injury, and patients can expect to return to their normal course of daily activities.
Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) or Laser Energy
During RFA or Laser Energy treatment, your doctor will insert a thin catheter into the varicose vein. Once positioned, the tip of the catheter will heat up using radiofrequency or laser energy. The heat destroys the vein as the catheter is removed by collapsing the vein wall and sealing the vein shut. As a result, blood redirects to nearby, healthy veins.
Before this procedure, a local anesthetic will be mixed with fluid and injected into the site to minimize discomfort and make the process painless.
Some of the latest laser technology involves no needles or incisions. Using strong bursts of light onto the vein, the diseased vein will gradually collapse. When the laser hits the skin, a tinge of discomfort is felt, but the doctor will quickly cool the skin off.
Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA)
EVLA, also known as VenaCure®, is minimally invasive and safely treats varicose veins with targeted laser therapy. A tiny incision is made to allow the placement of a small optic fiber directly into the diseased vein. EVLA treats the vein from the inside out by delivering heat that collapses veins with unhealthy valves. Eventually, the unhealthy veins are absorbed by your body, allowing for improved circulation.
The procedure is safe, short, and does not require general anesthesia. Patients report relatively painless recoveries.
Sclerotherapy involves the injection of a solution (“sclerosant”) or foam directly into the varicose vein. The solution irritates the vein, causing it to shrink and collapse.
Sclerotherapy does not require anesthesia or any specific preparation. During treatment, the doctor will insert a small needle into the vein to inject the solution. Patients typically experience a quick pinch but report relatively little discomfort and easy recovery.
More than one treatment is typically required to resolve symptoms and is commonly used for varicose veins and spider veins.
Frequently Asked Questions
Coverage for varicose veins depends on whether the treatment is considered medically necessary. Spider veins, for example, may only present a cosmetic concern. Varicose veins, however, are a diagnosable medical condition often requiring treatment to alleviate discomfort and prevent the progression of vein disease. Most insurance companies, including Medicare and Medicare Plus, will provide coverage for treatment.
Consult with your insurance carrier before obtaining treatment. Also, discuss your diagnosis and treatment options with your doctor. Their office may be able to help you with the insurance process.
There are several treatment options available that are fast, easy, and painless. Schedule a consultation with iThriveVeins® today. Our knowledgeable staff and Board Certified Cardiologist are here to ensure that your health and wellbeing is of utmost priority.