By Lisa Perez, M.D.
If your parents or grandparents received treatment for their varicose veins in years past, you might have heard horror stories about painful vein stripping and long recovery periods. Many people with venous disease avoided being evaluated because of what they’d heard, the treatment sounded far worse than the disease. The good news is that now, it is easier to treat varicose veins than ever before.
The Long and Short of Venous Disease
Varicose and spider veins result when valves designed to keep blood from running backward away from the heart and back down into the legs fail or become loose and leaky—allowing backflow of blood, which stretches out veins and can cause high pressure in the veins. This pressure is transmitted up to the surface, causing spider and/or varicose veins, and can even push fluid into ankle and leg tissue, causing swelling. Aside from the unsightly purple snake-like veins, varicose veins can cramp or throb at night and can even develop blood clots. So much blood pooling in the legs can cause the legs to feel heavy and leaden. If fluid from the dilated vessels seeps into tissues, it can affect circulation to the skin, causing an itchy rash and even a painful ulcer.
Today’s Treatments for Varicose Veins
Fortunately, thanks to less invasive procedures, varicose veins can be treated on an outpatient basis. The treatments to eliminate varicose veins have improved dramatically in recent years. Patients no longer need to endure painful surgical vein stripping under general anesthesia. Thermal ablation treatments including endovenous laser or radio frequency treatments are performed in a doctor’s office and do not require sedation or a hospital stay. Medical lasers have proven their safety and effectiveness in all kinds of medical procedures and offer far less chance of complications than traditional surgical approaches.
“The treatments to eliminate varicose veins have improved dramatically in recent years.”
Now, a thin radio frequency catheter or laser may be inserted into the diseased vein, heating the vein and causing it to collapse and eventually be reabsorbed by the body. This is done under local anesthesia in less than an hour. Healing is relatively easy although there may be some bruising and the vein may take several months or more to reabsorb.
Another technique often used is called foam sclerotherapy. Through a small needle or IV catheter, a medication that is made into foam is injected into the diseased veins, causing them to collapse and eventually shrink until they are absorbed by the body. Thanks to the recent advancements in medicine and technology, modern vein treatments are noninvasive, more effective and less dangerous than the old methods of treating this disease. Now is the time to seek treatment for your venous disease. Don’t let your grandmother’s bad experience keep you from treating your varicose veins!
Dr. Perez moved to the Atlanta area in 2000, and has been an active member of the medical community since that time. She began treating veins in 2011, and became the medical director of Circulatory Centers. She joined the VeinInnovations medical staff in 2015, and works out of their Midtown and Sandy Springs locations. Her passion for treating venous insufficiency comes, in large part, from the joy she receives in watching patients lives transform following treatment.
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