Varicose veins are dark purple or blue veins that may appear twisted and bulging – like cords. They often appear on the backs of the calves or on the inside of the legs but can form anywhere from groin to ankle.
Varicose veins usually are the result of a breakdown of valves in the great saphenous vein, an internal vein on the inside of the thigh. This breakdown causes leakage of blood in the wrong direction. Blood leaks from the thigh into the calf and pools inside the calf veins.
This pooling of pressurized blood causes veins to stretch, bulge, and become varicose. If left untreated, these veins can lead to dangerous blood clots or large ulcers inside of the ankle.
Do I Have Varicose Veins?
Beyond the obvious visible symptoms, there are times when problem veins are deep within the legs, not revealing outward signs. Often these symptoms are mistaken for other problems.
Symptoms May Include:
- Achy or heavy feeling in the legs
- Burning, throbbing, muscle cramping in the legs
- Swelling in the lower legs
- Legs feel worse after prolonged standing or sitting
- Itching around one or more veins
- Skin ulcers near the ankle, which represent a severe form of vascular disease and require immediate attention.
Common Risk Factors
- Heredity – family history of varicose veins
- Gender – women are at a higher risk than men
- Pregnancy – especially during the late term
- Excessive standing and sitting
An initial consultation with a vascular surgeon or trained technician can determine if varicose veins are a possible cause for pain or discomfort. At this consultation, we examine patients’ legs and go over a variety of questions to determine your level of discomfort.
If we suspect varicose veins, we can conduct an ultrasound to determine the size and location of abnormal veins.
Thanks to endovenous technology, we can easily treat both the saphenous vein and the varicose bulges in the office with local anesthesia. Since varicose veins can lead to complications if left untreated, the treatments are covered by most insurance carriers.
Fortunately, we have many tools to correct varicose veins. These include sclerotherapy, microphlebectomy, the VNUS® Closure procedure, and endovenous laser ablation. Patients can also use conservative treatment to manage their symptoms.
Conservative treatment options refer to a non-invasive form of treatment, where medications and surgery are not used. These measures do not remove existing abnormal veins.
Patients can use self help measures such as:
- Eating healthy
- Exercising more
- Wearing support hose
- Wearing loose clothes
- Elevating legs
- Avoiding long periods of standing or sitting.
This regimen has proven helpful in reducing leg pain and preventing veins from getting worse.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions below. We encourage you to call our office and schedule a consultation for a more in-depth understanding of the varicose veins.
How long will I be out of everyday activities?
There is really no recovery to speak of. In fact, you’ll be up and walking as soon as it’s over. Most patients are able to return to normal activity within a few days.
How much scarring will I have?
With injection, you will notice no scarring. With microphlebectomy and ELVeS or VNUS lasers, small 1-2 mm incisions will occur, which over time will fade leaving almost no scarring.
How long will it last?
After treatment of varicose veins with a combination of ELVeS or VNUS, microphlebectomy and/or sclerotherapy, 80-90% of patients will have no recurrence of varicose.
What are the risks involved with laser surgery?
Risks in treating benign conditions are very rare. Although some patients may experience redness or tenderness, no long term problems have been discovered as a result of laser surgery in the treatment of veins.
Will my insurance cover it?
Until a physician can adequately assess your condition, it’s impossible to predict insurance coverage. Typically insurance providers will cover medically necessary procedures but not strictly cosmetic procedures. We can help you determine your coverage and arrange financing for covered procedures.