Veins are meant to carry blood throughout the body. When the valves in a vein weaken or get damaged, some of the blood flows backward. When it flows backward, it pools into the vein so that it looks twisted and enlarged. This is a varicose vein.
Varicose veins often appear on the lower half of the body. Women are at a higher risk of developing this condition, especially during pregnancy. The risk also climbs with age. The older you get, the more wear and tear your valves go through. Other factors that can contribute to varicose veins are family history, obesity, standing for long periods, sitting for long periods, lack of exercise and leg trauma.
The good news is that varicose veins don’t have to be permanent. There are effective vein treatment options out there for this specific medical problem. Read ahead to find out how you can treat your veins and how you can prevent more from appearing on your body.
Why Do People Want to Get Rid of Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins come with some uncomfortable symptoms, like irritated skin, leg cramps and ankle swelling. These are often related to problems with circulation. They can be improved with varicose vein treatment and lifestyle changes, like exercising more and choosing a low-salt diet.
In some cases, this condition comes with side-effects that affect a patient’s long-term health and that make everyday life difficult. One of the most common varicose vein complications is chronic leg pain and heaviness. Patients can have trouble walking, standing or focusing on activities for long periods. It can disrupt their ability to work, drive or exercise. It can be debilitating.
Some patients develop venous ulcers — these are shallow wounds that show up on the legs and ankles. The ulcers can be painful and slow to heal. And if they’re not treated properly, they can get infected.
These are some other varicose vein complications that you should know about:
- Minor bleeding
- Blood clots
- Chronic venous insufficiency
Varicose veins are also a cosmetic problem. Most patients don’t like the way the condition looks. The veins protrude from the skin, appearing like bunched up or twisted cords. They find them embarrassing and try to cover their legs as best they can with clothing. Imagine wearing full-length pants during summer heatwaves just because you’re afraid that others will judge your veins. Treating varicose veins can give patients the confidence to wear whatever they want without anxiety.
When you’re tired of painful side-effects and hiding your legs, you can say goodbye to varicose veins by trying these effective treatment options: compression stockings, sclerotherapy or EVLT.
Treatment Option 1: Compression Stockings
Compression stockings will increase circulation in the legs and ankle. By lightly squeezing your legs, it corrects the positions of the valves and improves their blood flow. That way, the blood doesn’t clot, move backward or pool into a damaged valve. These are excellent for treating other types of circulation problems like spider veins, swollen ankles and leg fatigue.
People who have varicose veins are recommended to get pairs of moderate compression stockings — firm and extra firm options are designed for patients dealing with serious venous diseases. You’re supposed to put the stockings on first thing in the morning to increase circulation and comfort through the rest of the day. It’s ideal to wear them when you know you’re going to be sitting/standing for long periods and if you’re traveling by plane.
Treatment Option 2: Sclerotherapy
Sclerotherapy is a minimally invasive procedure where a sclerosant (usually a salt solution) is injected into a vein or vessel. The solution is designed to irritate the vessel and force it to close. After the appointment, the visible appearance of the problem vein should diminish.
After the appointment, patients will be told to wear compression stockings to ensure good results. They will be encouraged to avoid certain activities during their recovery period:
- Strenuous exercise
- Direct sunlight (just for the treated areas)
- Hot baths
- Hot tubs
- Hot compresses
One problem that some patients have with this form of treatment is that it can be uncomfortable. The sclerosant can cause an unpleasant burning or cramping sensation. Here at Baywood Clinic, we offer a numbing agent to make the procedure as easy as possible. This can also help for patients worried about needles.
Here at Baywood Clinic, we also offer sclerotherapy as a way to get rid of spider veins, too. These veins are usually painless. Patients want to get rid of them for cosmetic reasons since they stand out. While varicose veins are generally flesh-coloured, these are purple, blue or red. They tend to show up in clusters similar to a spider-web pattern.
Treatment Option 3: Endovenous Laser Treatment
The best option for getting rid of large varicose veins is through Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT). During the procedure, a thin laser fiber is inserted into the varicose vein and then targeted with short energy pulses. The method closes the vein, encouraging the blood flow to go to the other surrounding veins. By closing the problematic vein, doctors can prevent the condition from returning to the same spot.
The surgeons at Baywood Clinic are pioneers with EVLT and have performed over 3500 successful treatments since 2001. The doctor will discuss what goes on during the procedure, appropriate aftercare and expected results. And they will take an ultrasound of the leg to determine the exact location of the varicose vein.
EVLT is a great alternative to vein stripping — this is a minor surgical procedure where a damaged part of the vein is removed. The problem with vein stripping is that it can cause scarring and varicose veins can return. It also carries the same risks that come with surgery like potential infections or poor reactions to anesthesia.
The benefits that EVLT has over vein stripping:
- Minimally invasive.
- Less painful.
- Shorter recovery time.
- No scarring.
- High success rate. In fact, EVLT has a 98% success rate.
Varicose veins don’t have to be permanent. There are effective options out there that can treat their symptoms and eliminate the problem. As long as you pair the treatment choices with lifestyle changes that improve circulation, you should be able to manage the medical condition from now on.