You probably know varicose veins on sight. They’re a network of ropy, colored protrusions that most often show up on your thighs and calves. There’s no question they’re an eyesore, but did you know that it’s important to seek medical treatment for them? While they’re most often harmless in and of themselves, they’re usually a sign of an underlying circulatory system problem that can have serious consequences.
At Comprehensive Vascular Care, our team of expert vascular specialists understands how uncomfortable varicose veins can make you feel and how important it is to treat them before they turn into a serious problem. That’s why they offer a number of treatments to rid you of these nonfunctional veins. Which treatment is right for you? Keep reading to find out.
How and why do varicose veins form?
Varicose veins are the result of a faulty circulatory system. To supply your body with oxygen and nutrients, your arteries carry blood from the heart to the tissues. Once depleted of oxygen and nutrients, your veins carry the blood back to the lungs and heart. There’s a hiccup in the system, though. Veins have to pump the blood against the pull of gravity, meaning they have to work hard to get the blood where it needs to go.
Your body has developed two “fixes” for this problem. First, the muscles in your calves and thighs take advantage of the elastic nature of the vein walls, contracting them to push the blood forward and upward.
Second, the veins contain tiny, one-way valves. They open to allow blood to pass by, then close to prevent backflow. The valves, though, can be damaged through injury or high blood pressure, preventing them from closing fully. Blood flow becomes sluggish, and blood pools around the damaged valve, engorging the vein. When this happens in superficial veins (close to the skin’s surface), the result is bluish or reddish protrusions on the skin — varicose veins.
The condition of stagnant blood flow is known as venous insufficiency since flow is insufficient to supply the body’s needs. Close to 40% of Americans experience chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) during their lives, a state of poor blood flow that remains untreated.
While varicose veins are certainly a cosmetic concern, they may also produce uncomfortable symptoms, including pain, itchiness, and an aching heaviness in the lower legs. In addition, if left untreated, they can lead to later stages of vein disease that come with more serious health complications and are harder to treat.
Varicose veins and your health
If you fail to treat CVI, and by extension varicose veins, you become at risk for more advanced vein disease.
- Vein damage and bleeding: fluid leaks into surrounding tissues, leading to swelling and the risk of vein rupture
- Superficial thrombophlebitis: a small blood clot in a superficial vein that can break free and damage other tissues
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT): large blood clots in veins deep in the leg, worsening venous insufficiency; clot can break free and travel to the lungs, blocking your airway
You can also develop skin ulcers, which are open sores that can become easily infected.
Which varicose vein treatment is right for me?
Sometimes varicose veins can be treated with lifestyle changes, such as wearing compression stockings that aid blood flow or decreasing the amount of time you stay sitting or standing. However, at Comprehensive Vascular Care, we also offer treatments that can permanently remove the varicose vein(s), which improves blood flow overall.
Radiofrequency (RF) ablation
This nonsurgical procedure treats varicose veins with heat. The RF energy heats up the vein, sealing it off. Your body reroutes blood flow to healthier veins and flushes out the waste.
If you have small varicose veins, you might be a good candidate for sclerotherapy. The doctor injects a solution (sclerosant) into your veins, irritating the walls. The vein swells and scars, blocking the flow of blood through it. Once again, your body reroutes blood flow and eliminates the waste.
This is an invasive procedure, where the doctor makes a small incision in the vein, then uses a special tool to pull the entire vein out, eliminating the problem completely. This might be a good option if your veins are large, bulging, and located very close to the skin’s surface.
If you’re bothered by the appearance and discomfort of varicose veins, the best thing you can do is to schedule a consultation at Comprehensive Vascular Care with one of our vein specialists and determine which treatment is best for you. Give us a call at either of our locations, or schedule online today.