Varicose veins can be a cosmetic or a health problem. For some sufferers, they are both. When they begin to erode self-confidence or start to cause physical discomfort, many patients wonder if it is time to seek varicose vein treatment. Fortunately, vein doctors offer several convenient outpatient options to eliminate these abnormal blood vessels.
Why Treat Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins affect as many as 35 percent of U.S. residents, according to the Society for Vascular Surgery. The specialists who typically treat them at a vein clinic are vascular surgeons.
For some patients, the sight of these bulging, ropelike red or blue veins on their legs is so bothersome that eliminating the vessels becomes a priority. Other individuals suffer pain, throbbing, burning, and/or muscle cramping in legs that feel very heavy.
It is even more important to seek treatment when complications arise. The Mayo Clinic cites the most common as ulcers on the skin, particularly near an ankle; blood clots; and burst veins that bleed.
Varicose Vein Treatment Options
For decades, the only remedy available to varicose vein sufferers was vein stripping. Today, most patients get relief with outpatient procedures performed at a vein clinic by vascular surgeons.
With many individuals, treatment begins with conservative measures such as wearing compression stockings, frequently elevating the legs, shedding excess weight, and avoiding prolonged periods standing.
MedlinePlus notes that when varicose veins continue to worsen despite these measures, vein doctors can offer these procedures:
- Sclerotherapy treats spider veins and small varicose veins by closing off the affected vessels. A vein specialist injects a medication into each targeted vein. This causes irritation and vein closure. Eventually, the vein fades from view, and healthy vessels nearby pick up the circulatory workload. In some cases, doctors use ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy to pinpoint veins that are difficult to locate.
- Endovenous ablation came about as a way to avoid vein stripping. It utilizes radio waves or lasers to generate heat that closes off targeted veins. The physician inserts a catheter through a small incision to deliver heat to the vessel and close it. The objective of this procedure is sealing off leaky veins in order to return healthy circulation throughout the affected leg.
- Microphlebectomy is ideal for cases with a number of bulging veins. After correction of any underlying circulatory problem with endovenous laser ablation or radiofrequency ablation, the patient might benefit from this minimally invasive procedure. While the individual is under local anesthesia, the surgeon makes tiny puncture holes in the skin and removes the targeted veins through them. This procedure is particularly useful for eliminating vessels closest to the skin’s surface.
It is important to note that while all of these procedures are highly effective, none of them can prevent the development of new varicose veins. Some patients therefore opt to return for periodic treatments.