What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are twisted, enlarged veins, often dark blue in color, located near -or raised above the surface of the skin. They are often a symptom of an underlying condition called venous insufficiency.
In healthy veins, one way valves keep blood flow in your leg from pooling and assist your muscles in moving blood upward, toward your heart. When one or more of these valves fail to function, the blood flows in the reverse direction causing the veins under the skin to engorge and distend. This “backup” of blood flow can increase the pressure in your veins to a level that is three to four times the normal flow. The high pressure then causes veins to bulge and stretch resulting in inflammation, pain and an unsightly appearance.
What causes varicose veins?
Varicose veins do not suddenly appear. This condition usually takes years for signs and symptoms to develop. Many factors can cause varicose veins. Although some causes are unknown, heredity or family history is the most common cause. Other contributing factors are age, obesity, leg trauma, pregnancy decreased life’s activities and occupations that require you to stand for long periods of time.
What are the symptoms?
Early symptoms may include:
- Leg fatigue
- Pain or a heavy feeling in the legs relieved by elevation
- Large twisted veins, bulging above the surface of the skin
- Swelling of the ankle or lower leg
- Discolored, dry, itchy skin near the ankle
- A rash or skin ulceration on the ankle or lower leg
There may be other reasons for any one of the above symptoms; however, two or more of the symptoms at nearly the same time may be an indication of varicose veins or other vein disorders.
Are there long-term complications?
Varicose veins are common and are not generally associated with more severe health problems. However, they can be painful, unattractive and worsen over time. Varicose veins can cause legs and feet to swell, leg fatigue, and throbbing or cramping at night. The skin surrounding the veins may also itch and burn. In severe cases, venous insufficiency may develop, preventing normal blood return to the heart which can lead to problems like superficial thrombophlebitis or deep-vein thrombosis (blood clots).
What are treatment options?
Compression stockings are used to increase blood flow and reduce swelling, pain and fatigue. We carefully measure and fit these support garments to your legs in order to provide the most accurate compression for your specific needs. These garments act as our “bandage” after treatment and can help reduce the speed of disease progression. They are helpful to patients who have varicose vein disease and those who want to use them as preventative maintenance.
Radio Frequency Ablation
This procedure involves heating the vein wall using temperature controlled radio-frequency energy to shrink and seal the problem vein. Once the vein has been closed, blood is naturally rerouted to healthy veins. The closed vein is treated as waste by the body and is absorbed over time.
Sclerotherapy is a non-surgical procedure which involves the injection of a concentrated solution through a tiny needle resulting in the vein being absorbed by the body naturally. This treatment is used on varicose veins when an ablation cannot be utilized. Ultrasound guidance can be used in this instance to aid in visualization of diseased veins for a more accurate injection or treatment.
Laser VEIN ABLATION
Laser can be used by placing a catheter inside the vein to shrink and seal the problematic vein with the same results realized from radio-frequency treatments.
This is a procedure done in our office using local anesthetic to remove bulging, surface veins. After the skin is “numb” very small punctures are made and the vein is removed. This procedure takes 1-2 hours and the benefits are amazing. No stitches are necessary. Minimal downtime is required and patients can expect to resume normal activity immediately following.
DVT Diagnosis and Management
DVT or Deep Vein Thrombosis is a blood clot that may partially or completely block blood flow through the vein. We use a sonogram to evaluate the blood flow in the veins in order to detect the presence and specific location of the clot. The chosen course of treatment may include medications, compression stockings and elevation of the affected leg in order to prevent the clot from increasing in size and potentially moving to your lungs.