Varicose Vein Treatments
Let’s overview what varicose veins are and how they get to be in your body. Valves in the leg veins, which work with the calf muscles, generally pump blood from the legs back to the heart. However, if one valve leaks or malfunctions, blood can accumulate in the vein rather than return to the heart.
This accumulation of blood drives the vein to bulge and enlarge, creating what we are talking about, a varicose vein.
Although there is no cure for varicose veins, these treatments can reduce their appearance and relieve discomfort:
For minor forms of varicose veins, regular relaxation and elevating of the legs may be enough to ease the problem. This posture reduces blood flow to the lower leg and may alleviate the thickening of the veins.
Compression stockings or support stockings are other options for people with circulatory disorders or diabetes. These socks compress your veins; the compression stops your veins from stretching and promotes circulation in the feet and legs, helping blood flow to decrease pain and discomfort.
You may also take medication such as ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatory drugs to help alleviate the worst effects. Certain supplements can also help alleviate aching and painful leg symptoms.
Ensure you move frequently or take breaks which will help improve circulation.
Try your best to exercise regularly to encourage healthy blood circulation.
Watch your weight since having excess weight may put extra pressure on your legs.
Doctors recommend following a low salt diet to help prevent swelling from water retention.
It is not uncommon for a vein specialist to recommend that a patient follow more than one, preferably all of these methods simultaneously.
If home treatment is not helping you, or if you are suffering from a more severe case of varicose vein, you may need more complicated treatments, for example:
Sclerotherapy is a process that involves a vein specialist injecting special foam or substance into the affected veins. The foam heals the veins and seals them closed. This treatment may not be convenient for you if you have previously had deep vein thrombosis.
The injection is guided into the vein by ultrasound, so it is possible to treat more than one vein in the same session.
Specialists usually perform foam sclerotherapy under local anesthesia, using an analgesic medication to numb the area to be treated.
Your varicose veins should begin to vanish a few weeks after sclerotherapy, as more healthy veins take over the part of the damaged vein, which will not have blood anymore. However, you may need treatment more than once before the vein fades, and there is a chance that the vein will reappear.
Although we have proof that this treatment is effective, there is no confirmation of how effective foam sclerotherapy is in the long term.
Sclerotherapy can also cause side effects, which include:
You should be capable of walking and returning to work immediately after sclerotherapy. However, you will need to wear compression stockings or bandages for up to a week.
In rare cases, sclerotherapy can have serious potential complications, such as stroke or transient ischemic attacks.
Varicose Vein Treatments
Laser therapy or (endovenous thermal ablation) is another option. In this minimally invasive process, a vein specialist uses a long, thin tube called a catheter and a laser to heat and close off the damaged vein.
During endovenous ablation, the vein expert uses ultrasound to visualize the vein; the expert inserts a catheter through the skin and into the damaged vein and then inserts a radiofrequency electrode via the catheter and into the vein to heat the vessel until it seals.
Once the defective blood vessel seal, blood flow diverts to other nearby healthy veins. With this procedure, there is minimal scarring, few side effects, and a quick recovery time while improving circulation to the zone.
A few days after this minimally invasive treatment, your physician will do a follow-up examination with another ultrasound to evaluate the success of the treatment.
Vein experts usually perform this process as an outpatient procedure at a vein clinic, although some cases may require inpatient treatment.
Radiofrequency ablation treatment involves heating the varicose vein wall using radiofrequency energy. The vein specialist access through a small cut above or below the knee and inserts a catheter into the vein using ultrasound.
After, the specialist inserts a probe into the catheter that sends radiofrequency energy. This energy heats the vein until its walls collapse, closing and sealing it. Once the vein seals, your blood will naturally redirect to one of your healthy veins. You can use this treatment to shut a large varicose vein in the leg.
You can undergo a radiofrequency ablation treatment under local anesthesia, being awake, or general anesthesia while sleeping. However, this treatment may cause short-term side effects, such as tingling (paresthesia).
You may need to wear compression stockings for up to a week after this treatment.
Varicose Vein Treatments
Surgeons usually perform varicose vein surgery under general anesthesia, meaning you will sleep during the process.
You can commonly return home on the same day, but sometimes it is required to stay overnight at the hospital, especially if you are having surgery on both legs.
The ligation and stripping treatment involves tying off the vein in the affected leg and then stripping it. Next, the specialist makes two small incisions. The first is near the groin at the top of the varicose vein and is approximately five centimeters in diameter.
The second incision is a minor cut further down the leg, generally around the knee. The upper part of the vein (near the groin) has to be tied up and sealed. Next, the specialist passes a thin, flexible wire through the lower part of the vein and carefully pulls and removes it through the lower leg cut.
Surgery will not affect blood flow in your legs. This situation is because the deep veins in your legs will take over the part of the damaged veins.
Ligation and stripping may cause pain, bleeding, and bruising. More severe complications are rare but may include nerve damage or deep vein thrombosis, where a blood clot builds in one of the body’s deep veins.
Surgical stripping is the traditional treatment to remove the entire vein from the leg.
After the treatment, you may need up to three weeks to recover before returning to work, although this time depends on your general health and the type of work you do. In addition, you may need to wear compression stockings for up to a week after surgery.
Micro-phlebectomy is a minimally invasive treatment designed to remove varicose veins by making several small incisions under the patient’s skin. Unlike vein stripping, micro-phlebectomy allows a physician to remove the damaged vein without using a guide wire.
During the micro-phlebectomy treatment, your physician will identify and mark the veins for removal and then numb the area with localized anesthesia. Once the anesthesia in the area is adequate, the physician makes a tiny incision along the varicose vein before he uses a hook to grasp and remove it with little or no damage to the tissue.
Typically, the patients have to bandage their skin with compression stockings or bandages after the treatment for thirty to forty-five minutes. Most patients may resume daily activities immediately after the treatment; however, it is essential to avoid strenuous training or exercise for the first week after micro-phlebectomy to ensure adequate healing.
Phlebectomy is the traditional treatment to remove the branches of the vein.
Your physician may also recommend compression stockings or bandages for the first week after the treatment to help maintain the results.
VenaSeal treatment procedure is relatively new on the market and works slightly differently than laser ablation therapy and radiofrequency. VenaSeal, instead, closes veins with a medical adhesive.
This VenaSeal Treatment is the only non-thermal, non-sclerosant, non-tumescent procedure approved for the United States of America that uses an injection of an advanced formulated medical adhesive to seal varicose veins. Like other vein treatments, VenaSeal closes the vein and diverts blood to nearby healthy veins.
This process works immediately, which means no waiting for it to work, and you do not have to use compression stockings after the procedure.
We generally need treatment to remove damaged veins, treat complications, or correct a problem triggering the varicose veins. The length of your varicose veins influences and determines your treatment options.
Vein specialists usually use ligation, stripping, laser, or radiofrequency treatment for more prominent varicose veins. However, in some cases, a combination of treatments may work best.
On the other hand, vein specialists usually treat smaller varicose and spider veins with sclerotherapy or laser therapy to the skin.
Nevertheless, some people may want to improve the appearance of their legs, even if their varicose veins do not cause them other issues. In these situations, treatment can be a good option, as long as no other health problems make these treatments risky.
Your physician should look at your legs and bare feet to diagnose varicose veins and determine which treatment would suit your situation. So, depending on your physician’s evaluation, you can decide the best varicose vein treatment for you.
We are Modern Heart and Vascular Institute, a diagnostic and preventative medicine cardiology practice. For more information, contact us today.
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Modern Heart and Vascular, a preventive cardiology medical practice, has several offices around Houston. We have locations in Humble, Cleveland, The Woodlands, Katy, and Livingston.
We are Modern Heart and Vascular Institute, a diagnostic and preventative medicine cardiology practice.
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At the Modern Heart and Vascular Institute, we offer state-of-the-art cardiovascular care with innovative diagnostic tools and compassionate patient care. Our priority at Modern Heart and Vascular Institute is prevention. We help patients lead healthier lives by avoiding unnecessary procedures and surgeries.
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This article does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need cardiovascular care, please call us at 832-644-8930.
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