When blood flows through the body, arteries carry it from the heart and veins carry it back to the heart. Veins contain valves that keep the blood from flowing back down the legs and pooling. When those valves weaken and fail, varicose veins form.
Discomfort from varicose veins ranges from nonexistent to extremely painful. Symptoms include leg fatigue, heaviness, and swelling. The swelling can be a slight puffiness around the ankle or severe edema from knee to ankle. Treatment for swollen legs becomes necessary to avoid living with chronic pain and discomfort. Below are four treatment options in order of least invasive to most invasive.
Lifestyle Changes as Treatment for Swollen Legs
A conservative approach to swollen leg treatment, lifestyle changes help improve your quality of life. Things you can do specifically to help treat your symptoms are:
- Lose weight: Losing weight reduces the pressure on your veins and helps prevent new varicose veins from forming.
- Exercise: The movement of the leg muscles is what pushes blood through the leg veins. Exercising improves muscle tone and improves blood flow.
- Don’t stand or sit for long periods: Just as a sedentary lifestyle can cause leg problems, so can standing all the time. Take a break, walk or sit, and be mindful of the shoes you wear. Wearing high heels all day will make the problem worse.
- Don’t cross your legs: Crossing your legs while sitting restricts blood flow and aggravates symptoms.
- Elevate your legs: At the end of the day, take time to elevate your legs above your heart. This will help relieve redness and swelling and feel great.
- Wear loose clothing: Tight clothing around the waist, thighs, and legs restricts blood flow.
Compression Therapy for Swollen Leg Treatment
If lifestyle changes alone do not help, your physician may prescribe compression therapy. When you walk, your calf muscles extend and contract, pushing blood back toward the heart. Compression stockings are an aid to help the calves move blood more efficiently. The stockings also improve valve function by compressing the varicose veins and reducing the backward flow of blood.
The resulting improved circulation addresses many of the painful symptoms like burning and swelling. Compression therapy is one of the easiest swollen legs treatments used to provide pain and swelling relief.
Minimally Invasive Swollen Leg Medical Treatments
When the swelling and other symptoms of varicose veins begin to affect your quality of life, it’s time for medical help. Varicose veins are the heart of the issue and it is time to address it. Minimally invasive treatments happen within the doctor’s office, and you can leave that day with little recovery time. Two treatment options for varicose veins are:
- Sclerotherapy: Sclerotherapy injects a solution into the veins that causes them to harden and be absorbed by the body. The veins fade over a few weeks and healthy veins will continue healthy circulation. Sclerotherapy sometimes takes more than one treatment to address the veins.
- Endovenous Ablation: Endovenous ablation is an ultrasound-guided procedure. A small catheter is inserted into the vein and heats the walls using radiofrequency energy. The heat seals the veins shut, and they are eventually absorbed into the body. This procedure is far less invasive than traditional surgery and comes with fewer complications.
Surgical Treatments for Swollen Legs
If the varicose vein is severe enough, a surgical option may be unavoidable. There are two main surgical options to choose from:
- Vein Ligation and Stripping: This procedure ties off and removes the affected vein through small incisions. Blood flow is routed to deep veins to keep circulation healthy. The surgery is done under anesthesia and regularly has great results. It takes between one and four weeks to recover depending on your original health.
- Varicose Vein Excision: The surgery removes varicose veins from the surface of the leg. Tiny needle punctures provide access to the vein, which is then removed with no need for stitches. Compression stockings are required to assist in recovery and most patients have no complications.
South Valley Vascular’s board-certified surgeons are pleased to provide their patients with high-quality care. A personal treatment plan is tailored specifically to your needs, ensuring your health is well cared for. If you have questions or would like to schedule a consultation, contact South Valley Vascular today.