veins are twisted, enlarged veins that are typically found in the legs and
feet. This is because standing and sitting for prolonged periods increases
pressure in the veins located in your lower body. Your veins have valves that
run in one direction, and the blood they push out flows toward your heart. If
the valves weaken or become damaged, blood is unable to effectively flow out.
That which does not go out of the veins, pools and causes the veins to swell,
leading to varicose veins.
Diagnosing Varicose VeinsSince
varicose veins may signal an underlying medical condition like diabetes, your
vein specialist will likely order imaging studies and/or blood tests to help
diagnose any potential underlying conditions. These tests are also performed in
order to evaluate valve function, understand your valve structure, determine if
blood clots are present in the veins and assess the amount of blood that is
flowing back into the legs. A physical exam and questions about your symptoms
are also in order, and are the first steps your doctor will take. All of this
information will be used to help your vein doctor choose the proper course of
Prior to Varicose Vein Treatment
to having a treatment performed, most health insurance companies will require
you to first wear compression stockings for several months and perform
This may consist of exercising, elevating your legs, eating a healthy diet, losing excess weight and avoiding long periods of sitting or standing.
These support hose come various lengths and
consist of an elastic, stretchable material that applies varying grades of
pressure at different points along the leg. Since most of the blood in your leg
veins gather at the ankle as a result of gravity, the highest grade of pressure
supplied by the stockings is in this area. Pressure then gradually decreases
higher up the leg. This is because gravity has less of an effect on the blood
in the upper parts of the leg. Their purpose other than reducing venous
pressure and forcing blood from the legs up to the heart, is to minimize
swelling by keeping fluids from leaking out of the veins and pooling in the
leg. All of this works to improve blood flow and decrease your risk of
developing blood clots and venous ulcers.
Treating Varicose VeinsIf your condition is advanced, or
if the above methods have not significantly minimized your symptoms and
condition, the following treatment options may be performed:
Sclerotherapy - this procedure is typically more effective when treating spider veins, but may
also be used as a treatment for smaller varicose veins. Here, the doctor will
inject a chemical solution into the veins using a very fine needle. The
solution will irritate the lining of the vein, causing it inflame and harden.
The harden tissue, which is later absorbed by the body, closes off the vein.
The absorption process causes the vein to shrink and disappear over time.
ablation – a laser fiber is inserted through the skin and into your
varicose vein. The laser heats the lining of the vein. The heat damages the
walls of the blood vessel, causing it to collapse, shrink and eventually
Phlebectomy – a
surgeon will remove small- to medium-size varicose veins through tiny punctures
made in the skin.
Vein stripping – Done mostly in severe cases, vein stripping
and ligation is an outpatient procedure that involves tying the veins shut and
removing them through incisions in your skin.
After Varicose Vein Treatment
may take several weeks, and a combination of procedures may need to be
performed in order to rid your varicose veins entirely. Self-care after your treatment(s)
resembles self-care you might perform before your procedure. This includes
wearing compression stockings, elevating your legs and avoiding long standing
and sitting. Exercises during the first couple of weeks, however, should be
low-impact like walking and stretching. You will be advised to avoid lifting
heavy objects or performing activities that will put a strain on your venous
system. All of these tips help minimize symptoms and prevent the development of
new varicose veins.