Varicose Veins and Treatments
Varicose veins are swollen and sometimes twisted veins that are usually purple or blue. The blue color is because blood that pools in the veins is deficient of oxygen. The veins can appear like protruding ropes underneath the skin and are usually warm to the touch. Varicose veins don’t always cause pain but more advanced cases typically do. Other symptoms can be itching, cramping, burning, swelling, and sometimes even bleeding. Symptoms that involve throbbing pain and aching are normally more severe at the end of the day or after prolonged standing or sitting. Unfortunately, varicose veins don’t improve and usually worsen without treatment.
The primary cause of varicose veins are failing vein valves. The failed valves make it more difficult for blood to flow upwards through the veins back to the heart. This condition is called venous insufficiency. Age can also be a factor. As you grow older, the tissue that makes up the vein walls can become less elastic and stretch with pressure. Increased pressure in the leg veins can eventually cause the veins to enlarge, swell, and twist which eventually turn in to varicose veins. Varicose vein treatment addresses the failed valves by utilizing an assortment of treatment methods.
There are many risk factors that can cause varicose veins. Unfortunately, there is no one factor that can determine if a patient will get varicose veins or not. As a matter of fact, a patient can have all of these risk factors and not get varicose veins. Or a patient could have only one risk factor and get the condition. These factors include:
We start diagnosis by physical examination. We will check for swelling while standing and then probably perform an ultrasound. Ultrasound is the best diagnostic tool to determine if you have venous insufficiency which is the primary cause of varicose veins. It is a non-invasive and painless procedure that uses sound waves. Ultrasound allows us to observe the characteristics of blood flow to determine if the vein valves are failing. Insurance companies typically cover a consultation and an ultrasound as well as treatment. An ultrasound study is actually one of the requirements most insurance companies require in order for a vein treatment to be covered.
Personalized varicose vein treatment
There is no “one size fits all” varicose vein treatment. Vein disease is not the same in all individuals and treatments need to be specific for each person. For most patients, we perform a full medical history, examination of the legs, and an ultrasound. We discuss any abnormalities found and then discuss all vein treatment options. Effective varicose vein treatment depends on the patient and the types of veins involved. As a board certified vascular surgeon, Dr Aquino can employ the full array of vein treatments tailored to each individual.
Conservative varicose vein treatment is sometimes sufficient to alleviate symptoms. These are mainly lifestyle changes that may not cure or prevent vein disease. They typically slow disease progress and improve quality of life by dealing with uncomfortable symptoms. Examples of conservative vein treatments are::
- compression stockings or compression therapy
- weight loss
- avoiding standing for prolonged periods of time
- leg elevation
- lowering cardiovascular risk factors like LDL cholesterol, blood pressure, and smoking
When conservative therapy is not enough, Dr. Aquino and her team use non-invasive vein treatments. Compared to venous surgery, these treatments are typically more comfortable for the patient, less costly, require little recovery time, and can be just as effective. These procedures are typically performed in the office. Treating varicose veins rarely requires outpatient surgery in a hospital. Examples of non-invasive treatments are:
Sometimes surgery is necessary to treat varicose veins. A well-trained vascular surgeon can provide the best care when surgical intervention is necessary. At the San Francisco Vein Center, we carefully monitor the patient’s well-being before, during, and after surgery.
Varicose veins can be more than cosmetic
Unfortunately, varicose veins don’t improve without treatment. Left untreated, they will usually get bigger and more painful over time. Varicose veins are not just cosmetic, they represent a physical condition caused by insufficient valves and increased pressure in the veins of the legs. Without treatment, the condition typically gets worse including a more noticeable appearance, leg swelling, leg throbbing, leg pain, and the formation of new spider veins or varicose veins. In extreme cases, if the condition continues to be left untreated, venous ulcers can develop which are a serious and can take months to heal.
Contact Dr. Aquino’s office today for your consultation to discover how to control varicose vein appearance and discomfort.