If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911 or seek care at an emergency room.
Varicose veins are more than a cosmetic issue. They can signify a more serious problem such as chronic venous insufficiency (CVI)—when veins in the legs become weak and stop working properly.
When the one-way valves that pump blood from the legs to the heart become weak, blood can pool in the legs. CVI can lead to inflammation, swelling, varicose veins, ulcers, and circulation problems that can cause throbbing, cramping or a heavy and tired feeling in the legs, as well as changes to the color and texture of the skin.
Venous insufficiency can develop even if veins aren't visible on the skin. Risk factors for this condition include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Being pregnant
- Having a family history of vein problems
- Standing or sitting for long periods
- Using birth control pills
Symptoms of vein problems usually do not go away on their own and tend to get worse over time. Fortunately, several minimally invasive procedures can relieve your symptoms and take care of problem veins for good—many in just one treatment.
If you’re tired of dealing with vein problems, ask a vascular surgeon if one of these minimally invasive treatment options can help you.
6 ways to reduce or treat vein problems
Before treatment begins, we may recommend that you have a duplex ultrasound to rule out other serious vein problems, such as a deep-vein thrombosis (a blood clot condition). This ultrasound can also test the function of your valves within your veins.
Based on those results, your doctor may recommend one of these minimally invasive procedures or a combination of therapies to relieve your symptoms.
1. Lifestyle changes.
Adjusting your normal routine can keep varicose and spider veins from getting worse, ease your symptoms, and lower your risk of developing new vein problems. We recommend that all patients:
- Achieve and maintain a healthy weight to reduce strain on your legs
- Exercise regularly, focusing on activities that improve leg “pump”, such as walking and running
- Elevate your legs and take short walk breaks if you have to sit for long periods of time
2. Compression therapy.
Compression therapy involves the use of special garments that put external pressure on the leg to push valves closer together, increasing their efficiency. Compression socks and stockings provide support and apply graduated compression.
Over-the-counter compression hose are available in pharmacies and medical supply stores, and many styles look just like regular socks or hose. Prescription-strength garments are recommended for anyone with venous disease. A trained professional can fit you for socks or hose based on your body and venous condition.
Sclerotherapy involves injecting chemicals into affected veins to seal them closed and prevent blood from flowing through them. Over time, the treated veins turn to scar tissue and fade away as the body redirects blood flow to healthier veins. You may need to wear compression stockings or elastic bandages between treatments to reduce swelling and help your legs heal.
4. Radiofrequency ablation
Radiofrequency ablation involves inserting a thin, flexible tube called a catheter into the dysfunctional vein. At the end of the catheter is a heating element that heats up and seals off the vein from the inside.
We can do this procedure with just a local anesthetic in the office, and you will go home the same day. The vein treated with radiofrequency ablation will become scar tissue and fade as healthy veins take over the leg’s normal blood flow.
Veins that are too small for ablation or too big for sclerotherapy can be treated with this outpatient procedure. The surgeon will make precise 2-3mm incisions in your skin to remove troublesome veins. No stitches are required, though you'll need to wear an elastic bandage or compression socks for a few days to support healing.
In this simple outpatient procedure, we use a catheter to apply a small amount of medical adhesive inside dysfunctional veins. The adhesive closes off these veins, and the body reroutes blood flow to healthy veins over the next few weeks.
You don't have to live with venous problems. Talk with a board-certified vascular surgeon to choose the best treatment option for your unique condition.