Contrary to what many may think, varicose veins are not just a cosmetic issue. These damaged veins can also cause severe health issues or long-term health conditions if left unaddressed. Thankfully, several effective and minimally invasive treatment options are available to remove varicose veins. This allows patients to live without painful or potentially dangerous symptoms or self-consciousness due to the appearance of varicose veins. Patients in Oregon and Washington can turn to the expert providers at Silver Falls Dermatology for safe and effective varicose vein treatment options.
What are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are veins that are close to the surface of the skin that become twisted or enlarged. Varicose veins are most common in the legs but can occur anywhere. Varicose veins are visible, causing many patients to feel self-conscious about the appearance. They can also cause pain or discomfort. If not treated, varicose veins can lead to other issues such as chronic venous insufficiency, skin ulcers, blood clots, deep vein thrombosis or chronic infections. The condition may also lead to leg swelling or weeping.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
Weakened or damaged valves within the veins cause varicose veins. This is most common in the veins within the legs and lower half of the body because these veins must work against gravity to return blood to the heart. As valves become weak or damaged, blood may flow backwards or pool within the vein. This results in stretching or twisting.
Patients with certain risk factors are more likely to develop varicose veins. Risk factors include:
- Advanced age
- Pregnancy, menopause or other hormonal changes in women
- Family history of varicose veins
- Sedentary lifestyle
Varicose Vein Symptoms
Varicose veins can cause pain or discomfort, but these symptoms are not always present. Patients may feel aching, throbbing or burning in the legs. Varicose veins may also feel itchy or cause a heavy feeling.
Varicose veins are also visible. They typically appear as dark blue or purple and appear twisted or bugle below the skin. The skin surrounding a varicose vein may change color.
Some patients may mistake spider veins for varicose veins, as they are similar in appearance. However, spider veins are smaller, may be red or blue and are seen closer to the skin’s surface than varicose veins.
Varicose Vein Treatments
The first course of action in varicose vein treatment is compression therapy. This typically involves the use of compression stockings to help improve blood flow in the legs. Most insurance companies will require an unsuccessful trial of compression therapy before covering other treatment options.
After most varicose vein treatment options, you can immediately return to your normal routine. However, you should generally avoid strenuous activity for at least one to two weeks. You will also be given specific instructions to care for the treated area.
Sclerotherapy and Ultrasound-guided Foam Sclerotherapy
Sclerotherapy is a common treatment option for varicose veins. This involves injecting a solution into the veins which causes them to close. Within a few weeks of the treatment, the vein will fade as the body naturally reroutes blood flow and metabolizes the closed vein. In some cases, ultrasound-guided foam sclerotherapy may also be used. In this procedure, a foam is injected into the vein rather than a liquid solution, and your provider will use ultrasound to visualize the varicose vein.
Endovenous ablation is another option. This procedure involves using heat within the vein to damage and close it. This is completed by using a needle to guide a wire into the vein. A catheter is placed over the wire inside the vein. This is then used to administer energy into the vein, generating heat through laser or radio waves. This damages the tissues. Endovenous ablation is an in-office procedure that can be completed in under an hour. You will be given medication to prevent pain and make you feel relaxed through the procedure.
A microphlebectomy is a procedure in which the varicose veins are surgically removed using very small incisions. This surgery can be performed in our office without requiring general anesthesia. A microphlebectomy is typically recommended for larger varicose veins close to the skin’s surface. These veins tend not to respond to treatment options such as sclerotherapy, making a microphlebectomy necessary.