Some treatments for varicose veins have been around since the 1930s when doctors injected caustic substances into these highly visible veins that caused them to eventually dry up and disappear. This technique (sclerotherapy) is still used today as an effective treatment for varicose veins and their thread-like cousins, spider veins.
These days, however, your options to remove the bothersome veins may also include therapies using advanced laser technology, radiofrequency energy, or minimally invasive, camera-guided, endoscopic surgery.
Dr. Suri is a well-respected cardiologist and vein specialist who has extensive experience in treating varicose veins and spider veins. He’s happy to discuss their nature and give some expert guidance about treatment choices.
What causes varicose veins?
As part of the function of your circulatory system, arteries carry oxygenated blood pumped from your heart to your tissues, which use the oxygen and other nutrients in the blood to function. Veins return the used, deoxygenated blood back to the heart for refueling.
Tiny, flap-like structures (valves) within your veins help keep the blood flowing in the right direction. When these valves are faulty, blood can leak backward and collect or pool in the vein, causing the enlargement and ropey, twisted irregularities associated with varicose veins.
Spider veins are sometimes caused by abnormal blood flow as well as changes in your hormones, sun exposure, and injuries.
Who gets varicose veins?
They tend to run in families, and they’re much more common in women than men. Other triggers include:
- Weakened valves and loss of elasticity in your veins due to aging
- Pregnancy, which naturally increases the amount of blood in your body and causes veins to enlarge
- Obesity, which can stress and strain your veins
- Sitting or standing for extended periods, which can force your veins to work harder to move blood to your heart
- Frequently sitting with your legs crossed or bent, which may cause blood to pool in your veins
How can I prevent varicose veins?
Unfortunately, there's no way to prevent them, but there are steps you can take to help decrease the discomfort sometimes associated with varicose veins, which may also help prevent them from worsening.
These steps include:
- Monitoring your weight and following a nutritious high-fiber, low-salt diet
- Avoiding use of high heels and tight, restrictive clothing
- Elevating your legs regularly and changing your sitting or standing position frequently
What is the best treatment for varicose veins?
The most effective treatment for varicose veins often depends on their location and size.
Sclerotherapy, for instance, is often quite effective for small and medium-sized varicose veins and spider veins. For this treatment, we inject the vein with a solution that causes it to close and essentially fade away within a few weeks.
You may need a repeat injection for optimal results, but sclerotherapy is done conveniently in our office and is painless other than a sense of pressure when the solution is injected into the vein. We use very small, fine needles for the injection and apply topical numbing agents before the procedure to eliminate discomfort.
Endovenous laser ablation is often my recommendation for more severe or deeper varicose veins. This treatment utilizes laser energy, delivered to the vein through a very small tube (catheter), to heat the inside of the vein and close it off.
We perform endovenous laser ablation at the office and use numbing agents to prevent discomfort. In many cases, it’s a very effective replacement for vein stripping and other surgical treatment used to eliminate varicose veins.
If you’d like a permanent solution to varicose veins or spider veins, call today to schedule an evaluation at West Coast Medicine and Cardiology.