Varicose veins are a condition in which veins enlarge—due to the malfunction of natural blood flow. Blood collects in the legs, causing them to pool up. Unfortunately, varicose veins can happen to anyone. However, about 20 to 30% of general adults fall victim to varicose veins, and the older generation is more vulnerable. While varicose veins can appear anywhere on the body, they are commonly found on the lower leg due to the pressure of keeping your body upright.
Most cases tend to fall under cosmetic issues, as varicose veins don’t often yield symptoms. However, varicose veins can lead to discomfort, leg swelling, burning or throbbing sensations, discoloration, itching, or even the inability to move—if left untreated. There are many ways to treat and prevent this condition, starting with changes that you can make at home. Here are your options.
Fortunately, varicose vein treatment doesn’t often require a trip to the hospital. Changing the way you go about life, such as your diet and the amount of exercise you get, is enough to prevent and treat most cases. Avoid wearing tight clothes, elevate the legs, avoid standing for long periods, and lose weight. These are various ways to relieve pressure on the lower body and prevent varicose veins from getting worse.
Therapy is another common method of treating this condition. Compression therapy can help prevent the veins from worsening and even heal them. More often than not, compression therapy is the preferred route for most people and the first approach taken before moving on to other treatments. Compression socks steadily squeeze the lower body, allowing the blood to move more effectively. They reduce the backward flow of blood and reduce swelling while also slowly preventing new varicose veins from forming.
If compression therapy doesn’t work, doctors will often attempt sclerotherapy. Sclerotherapy is the process of injecting a solution into varicose veins that causes the veins to close. As a result, the varicose veins start to disappear. This procedure requires more than one injection in order to properly and safely close the vein. However, it can be done without anesthesia in any doctor’s office.
Laser treatment is similar to sclerotherapy. However, in this procedure, nothing is injected or inserted into the body. Instead, a laser sends strong bursts of light onto the vein, causing it to disappear over time. This treatment is often appropriate for smaller varicose veins.
If you don’t respond to previous varicose veins treatments, doctors may turn to surgical options. Catheter treatment requires a doctor to insert a catheter into an enlarged vein, then use radiofrequency or laser energy to heat the tip—causing the varicose vein to collapse and seal off. Much like previous varicose veins treatments, this closes the vein and is often preferred for larger varicose veins.
For smaller varicose veins, doctors may perform ambulatory phlebectomy, which is a procedure where doctors make tiny skin punctures. This allows them to access and remove the vein. The patient can walk freely afterward with no scarring.
Saphenous vein ligation and stripping is another surgical treatment that is often saved for severe cases. Doctors will tie off a vein and remove it through a small incision before it reaches a deep vein. This procedure will not affect blood flow and has excellent recovery times and results.
If you or a loved one are suffering from varicose veins, and want to find a way to treat and prevent them in the future, contact South Valley Vascular. Our team at South Valley Vascular can provide customized treatments for varicose veins that are geared toward your needs. We can, and will, aid you in your journey to treat and prevent varicose veins. Visit us to learn more.