How to treat varicose veins
Just because you have varicose veins doesn’t mean that you have to be treated for it. If you show no symptoms and they do not cause any pain or discomfort you might not want to seek treatment.
There are many cases in which treatment is necessary and should be sought by a trained professional. Some of these include:
- Relief of symptoms – If you experience soreness or are uncomfortable
- Complications – If you develop discolored skin, ulcers in the leg or swelling
- Cosmetic - Insurance normally won’t cover cosmetic surgery, but you can elect to have it done by a private physician on your own to make your legs look better
Any treatment that you are given for varicose veins will depend on several different factors. These include but are not necessarily limited to:
- Overall health
- Where veins are located on the body
- Size of the veins
- How serious the veins appear
There are many options available for those who need and seek treatment for varicose veins. You should talk with your doctor about which treatment option will work best for you and your situation.
Compression stockings – Designed especially for squeezing your legs and help improve the circulation in your legs. They are designed so that they are tight around the ankle and loosen as they move up the leg as this helps blood flow up toward the heart. You can find the stockings in various colors, sizes and styles and can be purchased at most drug stores.
Surgery – If a varicose vein is too large, it might have to be removed surgically. You are generally put under using a general anesthetic so you will not be awake during the surgery. This is normally done on an out-patient basis so you can return home on the day of surgery; however, if both legs are affected and have been treated with surgery, you might have to stay overnight.
Ligation and stripping – This procedure is used by most surgeons and involves tying the vein off and taking it out of the leg. One incision is made at the groin and the other at the ankle or knee. A small wire is inserted to pull out the vein through the lower incision of the leg. Your blood flow should not be affected by this procedure as your other veins will pick up the slack of the lost veins. There will be side effects such as soreness, bleeding or bruising but will go away in a short time. Recovery time is around 1 to 3 weeks and compression stockings are advised during recovery.
Sclerotherapy – Sclerotherapy is the treatment used for patients who suffer from smaller or medium size varicose veins. This procedure is when the doctor injects chemicals into the veins which will scar and seal them closed. If the veins appear to be bigger a specific type of foam will be injected rather than chemicals. After this type of treatment the varicose veins will start to fade and the veins that are left will take over for the veins that are damaged. This type of treatment has still not been proven to be an effective solution for varicose veins as the veins have come back in several instances. You can experience some side effects that include pain in the lower back, headaches, blood clotting, fainting, change in skin color and problems with vision.
There are several other new treatment plans that have been created for treating varicose veins, however, their access and availability can be limited.
Radiofrequency ablation – During this procedure the walls of your vein will be heated and will use radiofrequency energy. Access to the vein is gained by cutting a small incision close to the knee. A catheter and probe are put into the vein to send out the radiofrequency energies necessary. Because of the heat from the probe, the vein will collapse and be sealed shut. Some of the side effects from this treatment include minor skin burns and feelings of being pricked by pins and needles. Wearing compression hose will be required for approximately 2 weeks following treatment.
Endovenous laser treatment – Much like radiofrequency ablation this type of treatment consists of having a catheter put into the affected vein. A small laser will be put through the catheter and placed covering the varicose vein. The laser will send energy bursts to the vein, heating and sealing it closed. You will be given a general anesthetic during this procedure and you will experience some soreness and bruising. Nerve damage can be a possible concern; however, it is not likely and should be temporary.
Transilluminated powered phlebectomy – This type of treatment uses one, possibly two small cuts in your leg. A small light, or endoscopic transilluminator will be placed under your skin to enable doctors to know what veins should be taken out. The veins will be cut prior to removal using a device that suctions them out. Normally a general or local anesthetic will be used and you might have some bleeding or bruising after the procedure.