How do varicose veins occur?
Veins return deoxygenated blood back to your heart to be recirculated. Nearly 75% of the body's blood is found in your lower limbs. To return this blood to the heart, your leg veins must work against gravity. Muscles in the leg squeeze deep veins to help push blood flow forward. Small, one-way valves in the veins open to allow blood flow towards the heart. Varicose veins occur when the valves in the superficial veins malfunction. The vein walls can lose elasticity causing them to stretch. When this occurs, the valve may be unable to close, allowing blood that should be moving towards the heart to flow backward (called venous reflux). Blood collects in your lower veins causing them to enlarge and become varicose. In this manner, faulty valves high on the leg may cause varicosities on the mid or lower leg.
Can varicose veins be prevented?
The underlying conditions described above usually make curing varicose veins difficult. However, certain measures may help relieve discomfort from existing varicose veins and prevent others from rising. Regular exercise helps to improve leg strength and circulation. Controlling weight and elevating the legs will help to avoid increased pressure on the legs and help with circulation.
Treatment Options for Varicose Veins
There are conservative treatment methods, such as the use of compression stockings, to help minimize the symptoms of varicose veins. If your varicose veins do not respond to conservative therapy, more active treatment may be required. Fortunately, new minimally invasive techniques like endovenous laser treatment (EVLT) allows effective treatment of varicose veins with no hospital stay, minimal scarring, minimal post-operative pain and nearly immediate relief from your symptoms.
These minimally invasive endovenous laser procedures offer the latest advancements in treatment of varicose veins and are quickly supplanting surgery as the 'gold standard'. These techniques offer superior results with minimal side effects.
- Uses only local anesthetic
- High success rate (93-98%)
- No scarring
- No hospitalization
- Low risk of complications
- Fast return to normal activities (normally 1-2 days)
- Covered by most health insurance plans
The physician will use ultrasound and insert a small catheter into the affected vein (usually below the knee) and advance it up towards the groin. An energy source (laser fiber) is inserted through the catheter which uses an infrared light to cause damage to the internal vein wall causing it to seal down on itself. The closed vein will eventually be absorbed by the body. Patients are generally encouraged to walk immediately after the procedure and are able to resume normal activities (aside from heavy lifting) the next day.
Side Effects & Complications
This minimally invasive procedure may have some side effects, including some slight bruising, which commonly disappears within the first few weeks. In addition, you will feel a delayed tightness (or "pulling" sensation) 4-7 days after treatment which is normal and expected.
Am I a Candidate for EVLT?
1. Have you or anyone in your family previously been diagnosed with varicose veins or venous reflux?
2. Do you have varicose veins which exhibit any of the following characteristics:
• Large, bulging veins on your legs
• Swollen, red, or warm to the touch
• Skin discoloration or texture changes
3. Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms in your legs, ankles, or feet:
• Pain (an aching or cramping feeling)
• Burning or tingling sensations
• Tender areas around the veins
• Sores or skin ulcers near ankle
4. Have you previously had skin ulcers on the leg (or areas that were slow to heal)?
5. Have you previously attempted conservative treatments without success (e.g. exercise, weight loss, elevating legs, avoiding long periods of standing/sitting, compression stockings)
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be a candidate for Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT). Call our office at 740.201.0222 to schedule a consultation with one of our physicians today for varicose vein treatment in Columbus, Ohio.
Sclerotherapy is the treatment of choice for spider veins or smaller varicose veins. Our physicians will inject a chemical directly into your vein causing them to close. These veins will eventually be absorbed by your body. Some stinging or itching at the site of the injection may occur.