Varicose veins are a common problem, affecting 35 percent of adults in the United States. Recognizable by their bulging, twisted, and rope-like shape that protrudes from the skin, varicose veins are both a cosmetic and medical concern that can cause an unsightly appearance and symptoms such as leg pain, swelling, itching, skin discoloration and, in severe cases, ulcers, sore and blood clots. At Vascular and Interventional Partners, we’re committed to helping patients eliminate their varicose veins with effective yet minimally-invasive treatment options, providing relief without surgery or significant downtime.
What are Varicose Veins?
The body’s circulatory system is a vast network of blood vessels that includes veins, arteries, and capillaries. The arteries deliver blood to where it’s needed, while the veins return deoxygenated blood back to the heart. The veins in the lower half of the body have to work against gravity to push the blood upward, so they contain specialized valves to keep things moving in the right direction. When these valves fail, the normal flow of blood is disrupted, causing it to pool in the affected veins. As pressure builds, the blood vessels begin to twist and knot, causing unsightly varicose veins to appear that are visible through the skin.
Varicose veins can appear almost anywhere in the body, but often occur on the legs, feet, or ankles. While they’re a relatively common condition, varicose veins are strongly linked to genetics — some people are more likely to develop them if there's a family history. Other risk factors for developing varicose veins include:
- Aging — Vein valves weaken over time
- Sex — Women are more likely than men to develop varicose veins
- Pregnancy — Blood volume increases and hormones affect vein health
- Lifestyle — Poor diet, obesity and sitting or standing too much play a role
- Underlying conditions — Venous insufficiency can lead to varicose veins
Varicose veins are not generally concerning on their own, but if left untreated, they can cause some uncomfortable symptoms and serious side effects. The goal of varicose vein treatment is to alleviate any discomfort and prevent the condition from progressing further. Treatment can also help avoid the complications of venous disease, such as the formation of ulcers, blood clots, and lymphedema.
How are Varicose Veins Treated?
At Vascular & Interventional Partners, our goal is to help patients live happier, healthier lives by improving treatment outcomes with the most effective and innovative techniques available. Whenever possible, we utilize a minimally invasive approach for alleviating the symptoms of venous disease without extensive surgery. For varicose veins, this includes options such as endovenous laser treatment (EVLT), sclerotherapy and ambulatory phlebectomy.
Often considered the gold standard for the nonsurgical treatment of varicose veins, EVLT is a minimally invasive procedure that uses laser energy to eliminate malfunctioning blood vessels. During treatment, a small ultrasound-guided catheter is inserted into the affected vein through a small incision. Inside this catheter is a fiber, which emits a precise amount of energy to heat the walls of the vein, causing the blood vessel to contract and seal shut. This stops blood from flowing through the diseased vein. As the treated vein begins to shrink and fade, circulation will improve as the body naturally reroutes blood through healthier vessels.
EVLT is a safe and effective treatment option for varicose veins, helping to alleviate unpleasant symptoms without extensive surgery. It is performed in an outpatient setting and generally takes about an hour to complete. Since there’s no general anesthesia, patients can return home the same day and immediately resume normal activities with little to no pain or downtime. Side effects are minimal and complications are rare.
A less invasive alternative to vein stripping, ambulatory phlebectomy can eliminate large, bulging varicose veins when other treatment options aren’t effective. This procedure is performed by making very small incisions in the skin and using a specialized hook tool to remove diseased blood vessels. The treatment area is numbed beforehand, so patients experience no discomfort during the procedure. Once the vein is extracted, it’s gone for good, providing immediate symptom relief and permanent results. However, new veins may reappear over time and require additional treatment.
Compared to vein stripping, ambulatory phlebectomy is less invasive, less painful, and requires less downtime. If patients have a number of varicose veins of differing sizes, it can also be performed in conjunction with other treatments for more comprehensive results.
At Vascular & Interventional Partners in Phoenix, Arizona, we are committed to helping patients find relief from the symptoms of varicose veins with the least invasive treatment options available. To learn more about our varicose vein treatments and find out which procedure is right for you, contact or call us today at (480) 435-9100 to schedule an appointment.