Here at the Vein Clinic of Greater Kansas City, we know you have a lot of questions about varicose veins. We would be happy to answer all of them if you’d like to come in for an evaluation. In the meantime, here are some quick answers to our most frequently asked questions:
1. What Are the Main Causes of Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are caused by increased blood pressure in the veins. Veins contain valves that keep the blood moving toward the heart. When these one-way valves become weakened or damaged, blood collects in the veins causing the veins to stretch and bulge. Causes can include:
- Heredity: Having a family history of varicose veins is, by far, the single biggest risk factor.
- Obesity: Excess weight puts extra pressure on the leg veins and their valves.
- Hormonal Changes: Both pregnancy and menopause can increase your risk for developing varicose veins.
- Age: As the body ages, wear and tear on the valves in your veins can cause them to weaken.
- Occupation: Working at a job that requires you to stand for long periods of time can increase varicose vein development.
2. How Do I Get Rid of Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins do not just go away on their own, but they can sometimes become less visible. You may reduce the symptoms temporarily by losing weight or increasing physical activity. But, most likely, the symptoms will return over time. Here are some things that will help reduce varicose vein symptoms:
- Reduce your weight (takes unnecessary pressure off your veins)
- Elevate your legs often
- Avoid long periods of sitting or standing in one place
3. When Should I Call a Doctor about Varicose Veins
If your varicose veins are becoming uncomfortable and decreasing your quality of life, it may be time to see a doctor. Varicose veins are a progressive disease process. Look for these symptoms:
- Continuous pain and swelling in the legs
- Heavy or dull, achy legs especially after exercise or at the end of the day
- Varicose veins that are tender, red, and feel warm to the touch
- Varicose veins that are prone to bleeding
- Skin changes such as discoloration, redness, thickening, or ulcerations
4. Can Varicose Veins Be Treated without Surgery?
Yes. Minimally invasive options exist, and most problem veins, from the tiniest spider veins to larger varicose veins, can be treated without surgery.
5. What Treatment Options Are Available for Varicose Veins?
There are several treatment options available. They include:
- Compression Stockings which increase blood flow and reduce pain and swelling.
- Radio Frequency Endovenous Ablation which heats the vein wall to shrink, collapse, and seal it.
- Sclerotherapy which is a concentrated solution injected into the vein to collapse it.
- Varithena which is a mix of polidocanol, nitrogen, and oxygen injected into the vein usually used to treat larger or deeper veins that cannot be treated by using catheter ablation or phlebectomy.
- Ambulatory Phlebectomy which involves numbing the skin and removing surface veins through very small incisions.
6. What Can Happen if Varicose Veins Are Left Untreated?
Varicose veins can range from mild to severe. If neglected, varicose veins can have major implications for the patient’s health. Here are several things that can happen to varicose veins when left untreated:
- Hyperpigmentation – excess blood leaking into the tissues of the leg that can cause painful swelling and inflammation dark and discolored skin.
- Lipodermatosclerosis – hardening of skin, pain, redness, swelling, and a tapering of the legs above the ankles. Legs may become increasingly tender.
- Venous Leg Ulcer – varicose veins usually result in a condition known as chronic venous insufficiency or CVI which can result in a venous leg ulcer. These open wounds tend to get larger over time leading to increasing pain and irritation.
- Spontaneous Bleeding – varicose veins tend to break down the walls of the skin over time bringing the varicose veins closer to the surface of the skin. Small scratches or scrapes can result in excess blood loss.
- Superficial Thrombophlebitis – inflammation of the veins just beneath the surface of the skin which may include redness of the skin, increasing tenderness of the vein, and ongoing pain or swelling of the legs.
- Deep Vein Thrombosis – this is the most serious condition related to varicose veins. DVT results from pooling of blood forming a clot in the deep vein system with symptoms of progressive leg pain, swelling, redness, and increasing pain with walking. If the blood clot travels further up the body, the condition could be life-threatening.
We hope this answered some of your questions, but please call us for an evaluation if you’d like to learn more. There are many treatments for varicose veins at the Vein Clinic of Greater Kansas City. Our team of vein experts, led by Dr. Craig D. Barbieri, can help you decide which type is right for you. The good news is that they are all minimally invasive. Schedule an appointment at Vein Clinic of Greater Kansas City. We have locations in Overland Park, KS and Liberty, MO.